Thank You

 As we celebrate Memorial Day 2011, I want to say thanks to some very special people. Most of these I knew personally. One, I know through history, family stories, and, I am sure, a few “tall tales”.

The fellow in the middle in the photo to the left is SSGT Gordon S. McHenry. That’s him, too, in the next photo in the their quarters. Both photos were taken in Japan in August 1946. Dad served as an MP in the occupation forces in Japan and the Philippines. He was on a troop transport on his way to be a part of the invasion forces when the bombs were dropped and the war ended in 1945. Not sure when the photo in his dress uniform was made (“Class A’s” I think they were called) but he looked pretty sharp, if you ask me!

The tall fellow to the right is PVT Thomas Eugene Herlong, my maternal grandfather (known as “Granddaddy to me) and his buddy from Claiborne County MS, Harvey McFatter. Granddaddy went to England for World War I. Before shipping over to the Continent, he acquired appendicitis (a really big deal in the early 1917-1918 time frame). After recovering from his surgery, he built caskets and did other construction in England until he was shipped home.  I know that was the longest trip he ever made.  Probably the second longest was when they loaded him and others from the Biloxi VA up on a plane and flew them to SC to get out of the path of Hurricane Camille.  He loved farming but due to illness and injury was wheelchair bound in his mid 60s.  He lived out his final years in the Biloxi VA. We saw him often.  He loved living on the ward with will all those guys. He loved us coming. He wrote great letters and let us sit in his lap in his wheelchair. He died when I was in high school. I wish that Cille the adult had known him.

This is CPT George Austin McHenry. It is from him I know I inherited my “wanderlust” for he traveled the world leaving my great-grandmother at home to build a house and raise their son.  He served in the Spanish-American War in Cuba as a military physician. He was the original “Ponnie”. My Dad is the second one to have that name.  He settled what is now the town of McHenry in South Mississippi. He was my great grandfather. His only child, Floyd, had six children. My Dad is the youngest of those.  All my life I have heard stories about him. I wish, too, I had known him personally for he was an interesting man.

I would be remiss is I did not mention Steve’s Dad. CPL Luther S Litchfield served with the 3rd Marines in the South Pacific. He was in several major campaigns and was in the floating reserves at Iwo Jima. I wish I have a photo of him in his uniform but have never seen one.  He never talked much about the war but it was never far from him. He had such respect for our nation, our flag, and all we stand for. I thank him, too.

II Chronicles 7:14  reminds us “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” How I thank those who have gone before, are there now, and pray that the rest of us will pray and turn from our wicked ways so our land will be healed.