Though my life has been blessed by many a good friend, it is at this time of year I fondly give pause to thank God for one of my dearest… Lieutenant Colonial Vance Huston. This brave American proudly served 23 years in the United States Marine Corps.
He heroically flew numerous helicopter missions in the Vietnam conflict as well as experiencing the privilege of piloting Marine One for three United States Presidents. Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. I remember Vance sharing an interesting account regarding some of the first landings on the White House lawn while serving during the Eisenhower administration.
It seems that there was a problem that developed with the White House groundskeepers due to the large indentations the wheels of the aircraft left in the beautifully manicured lawn. The solution was to place large painted platforms on the ground for the wheels to land on. This as well presented a problem because the wheels of the helicopter on that particular aircraft were situated in such a way that the pilots were unable to see them from their vantage point in the cockpit.
This was remedied by strategically placing two lines enabling the pilot to line up the aircraft so as to perfectly touch down on the platforms. Vance has shared before with me the incredible spiritual lesson he learned from this incident. Not only do we have to line up with God’s word and his will to make a safe landing ourselves when our vessel comes to the end of this life, but we are leaving markers with our life and example to those that we influence and lead. What an incredibly important thought.
Col. Huston also spoke of a memorable trip to Washington DC which included a visit to the Vietnam Memorial with his grandchildren. It really is a memorable and touching place to visit. If you have never gone, you should do so at least once in your life. He talked of looking up a dear friend’s name on the wall that he has served with in that conflict. The name he searched for was that of Ralph Caspole with whom he had served in the Presidential squadron and who was tragically killed on his last mission in Vietnam.
He recalled that while standing at the wall looking at Ralph’s name, his eyes filled with tears; as he looked at the name of his friend his own reflection came into focus looking back at him from the wall itself. The thought that overwhelmed him was that his friend Ralph Caspole died that he, Vance Huston could be free. May we never cease to remember those who have given as President Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg address so beautifully described as, “that full measure of devotion” that we might enjoy life and freedom.
The lives we remember during the celebration of Memorial Day instill in us a thankfulness for the freedoms we enjoy each and every day. They also call us to the God, whose principles this great nation was founded upon. Being drawn to the God who created us, we are ushered face to face with His love and sacrifice for us in these timeless words, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Your physical freedom was made possible by those whom we remember today; your spiritual freedom was purchased a few thousand years ago by one man, Jesus Christ on a small hill outside Jerusalem. What a battlefield that was! Good triumphed over evil so that
we could be eternally free.
While aboard an English ship trying to secure the release of Dr. William Beanes of Upper Marboro, Francis Scott Key witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry. When the bombardment was over, the American flag was still flying. He wrote a poem The Defense of Fort McHenry, which was first printed anonymously on a broadside in 1814. On September 20th it was published in The Baltimore Patriot. Key’s brother-in-law suggested he set the words to the tune To Anacreon in Heaven. When the sheet music was published in 1815, the name was changed to The Star-Spangled Banner.
The song was first adopted by the army and navy as the national anthem. It was officially recognized as the American National Anthem in 1931 by an act of Congress. The last verse has always touched my heart,
“O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand, Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation; Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us as a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause is just, And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”, And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”
May this year’s Memorial Day bring to each of us a fresh appreciation for the incredible price paid for the freedoms we are blessed to enjoy here in the land of the free and the home of the brave!
This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper
Tim Throckmorton is the Midwest Director of Ministry for the Family Research Council. He can be reached at 740-935-1406