Memorial Day is almost here; the day on which we honor our heroic dead. Would that I might use this space to pay them a worthy tribute. I assure you that the spirit is not only willing, but in an anguish of longing to express the homage they deserve; but the "flesh" feels as if it belonged to the "black market." To add to my sense of inadequacy, Dell McQuiston Harmon's beautiful tribute to Mrs. McCormick stands out like a bright jewel - and I find myself wishing I could write like that. That lovely tribute stirs a deep well of wishing - wishing that we might leave such a record of unselfish service as did Mrs. McCormick. Out of our little town of Saltsburg have stepped many noble and valiant souls. "Where'er a noble deed is wrought. Where'er is spoken a noble thought. Our hearts in glad surprise. To higher levels rise."
I have written now and then of this wonderful Sunday School class of married couples, to which Virgil and I belong. There is a membership of over 200, but a good many of us teach classes, or have some kind of supervisory job. The lessons, the announcements, the grand musical treats must reach us second-hand. A certain letter from the South Pacific was read in class that, even in relay, caused an electric thrill. One of our number Major Craig Seasholes, was force down at sea because of engine trouble in the airplane in which he and fourteen others were riding on a "combat mission," as the newspapers expressed it. They landed under cover of darkness, and climbed into their rubber raft. There they drifted at sea for six days and six nights. You may have read about it, for Brig. Gen. Twining was one of them. A large bombing plane rescued them. A cameraman was on hand, and, with his 35 mm, film, took pictures of the rescue. A member of our S.S. class, who is associated with Warner Bros. branch studio in Cleveland, had a 16 mm film made from the larger one, and showed it to the Bell Class at our annual meeting three weeks ago. Much of the film had been cut; but first we saw this huge bomber winging its way; then, from a window of the bomber, we saw, with the camera-man, the tiny raft in the limitless expanse of the Pacific Ocean. The next scene was the carrying of the general from the plane, anchored in shallow water, to the beach of a small island; then a line-up of the officers, unshaven gaunt with hunger, thirst, loss of sleep, the heat of the blistering sun, etc. There stood our Craig - Craig, the handsome, the debonair, our favorite master of ceremonies, with his flashing wit and smile; Craig, the Sunday School teacher in Jr. High, who was the acknowledged leader of Sunday School picnics, whether in the woods or our back yard on Eaton Road. Here he was in the group with his head bowed. We thought he must be on the verge of collapse. But the next scene was a close-up of Craig and his broad smile - so brave that it made us weep. We had to see it over again; and in between showings, his gentle, soft-spoken wife arose to tell us that a brand new letter from Craig explained that in the scene with his head bowed they had just set foot upon good old terra firma, and he had paused to give thanks to his Heavenly Father - not knowing a picture was being taken. In a letter to Henry Bell, our beloved teacher for eight years, he told how those fifteen men subsisted those six days on one canteen of water, one chocolate bar, one can of sardines, and two sea gulls. Each evening, at sundown, they each had one swallow of water. Imagine the maddening thirst! If they had had the weapons to kill a shark, they could have thrived on shark meat. One creature kept his gleaming, hypnotic eyes focused upon them for 48 hours. Once, perhaps in desperation, one of the men struck at him with the aluminum paddle. He went away for two minutes, and came back with three more. Those men know the meaning of fear. If those sharks had chosen to lash at the rubber raft, these sword-like bills could have cut it to ribbons. As it was, those men never moved a muscle. When the rescued party was taken back to the island which had been their home for six months, great was the rejoicing. The French priest told them how he and his people had "prayed without ceasing" for those men, "lost at sea." Craig told his wife how deeply touched he was - and for him all religious barriers are swept away.
Now I must close. But I will be with you in spirit next Sunday when you honor your brave soldier dead.
Florence B. Taylor
Next - 6/17/43 - Annette
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