Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Flowers…Where Have They All Gone?

“All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades,…Isaiah 40:6b-8a

ARLINGTON, VA – MAY 21: Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment place American flags at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. “Flags-In” has become an annual ceremony since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was designated to be an Army’s official ceremonial unit in 1948.

September 18, 1960

My father’s life was taken by Pancreatic Cancer…in the prime of his life, 46, a Navy doctor, a career spiraling upwards, a lovely wife, 3 daughters(12, 10, 7).  The Navy was so special for and to him.  He served in WWII in the Pacific Theater as surgeon, infection control medical officer, doctor, user of Penicillin in its early days to cure Syphillis.  From 1946-1951, he became a part of the post-war Manhattan Project, serving as a Radiological Safety Officer, while he continued to practice medicine in the Navy.  He was on Bikini Island for Operations Crossroads in 1946, then on Eniwetok for Operations Greenhouse in 1951.  By early 1960, he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer…a death sentence then and now connected with radiation poisoning.

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January 30, 2013

Mama raised us girls and we cared for her in her old age.  Mama died of cancer coupled with vascular dementia and diabetes.  She was 98, never remarried.  Daddy was her true love.

We buried her ashes in Arlington National Cemetery in the same grave with the remains of her beloved Ralph after 53 years…an honor and a privilege to have our parents buried on such hallowed grounds as these.

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I was 2 months old. And I was their first of three, all girls. Do you think these parents were happy?

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June 7, 2018

My husband, Kenneth, served in the U. S. Army 1967-1970 in the 101st Airborne, a Combat Infantryman in Vietnam…1968-69.  Kenneth came home safely. January 18, 2018, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. It is known to be associated with Agent Orange, a chemical used to defoliate the jungles in Vietnam during the war. We celebrated our 25th anniversary on May 22, 2018, a few weeks before he left this earthly sphere. He is with Jesus now so I will see him there one day. But I miss him so now.

Heroes!  These parents of mine, my husband, and ALL the others who have fought to protect this nation over many wars and many years. They each have a story, yet so many stories are quieted by death.  War is a terrible thing.  The gain is often so small.  The loss is so huge.

We remember…in many ways…flags, wreaths, flowers, small tokens, a poem, a song, photos, music, verbal stories. 

When will we ever learn?  Oh, when will we ever learn?

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?  by Peter Seeger

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone for husbands everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the husbands gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the husbands gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the husbands gone?
Gone for soldiers everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone?  Long time passing.

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The glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

The voice said, “Cry out!”
And he said, “What shall I cry?”

“All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:5-8

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LORD, I pray for the many families who have lost a loved one to war. I lift all of our hearts up to You, that You will comfort us, holding our hearts in Your soothing hands, our bodies and beings in Your arms of comfort all the days of our lives. Oh, God, I miss these three from my life so very much, Father.

I pray Your care for the many wounded soldiers who were injured as they served this country. Please also care for those who take care of them. God, war seems to be the way of this world, but I do not like it. In fact, I hate war. I hate hate. God, You call us to love one another. Yet our disobedience to You, our sinful nature, makes us hate, distrust, dislike, be filled with anger, and on and on. I am so sorry. I also know You have forgiven me. I thank You and praise You for Your mercy and Your grace upon my life. I ask Your mercy upon those who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. I pray for each one to come to know Your salvation, saving grace that they will seek love rather than any other worldly way. Oh, God, I pray for Your peace upon this earth and soon. I hate hate, Father. Through these tears, I call upon You to please guide us to stop all of this AWFUL! I cannot stand it. I truly cannot. This world is so filled with AWFUL! So filled that I can almost not see past it. YET, You give me eyes to see You and a heart softened by Your loving heart. You give me Your love, Your beauty, Your grace, and Your mercy. You give me flowers and sunshine in a very dark world. Thank You, thank You, my Heavenly Father.

I continue praying Colossians 3:12-17: May I put on then, as God’s chosen one, holy and beloved, compassionate heart, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if I have a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven me, so I also must forgive.  And above all these I will put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.   And let the peace of Christ rule in my heart, to which indeed I  was called in one body. And may I be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in me richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in my heart to God.  And whatever I do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:12-17)

Thank You for my parents who dearly loved me. Thank You for Kenneth who loved me like no other. He shared Christ with me, leading me to Your salvation. He loved me with the love that could only come from You. I am ever grateful, Lord. I know through this dark world, You are my Protector, my Provider, my Comforter, my Refuge, my Lord. I see the flowers even where there are graves. I know You created each human being who walked this earth… and those who walk today…prior to their grave. And I know You create beautiful flowers. Thank You. May I see, hear, and feel clearly, Lord. In the Powerful and Saving Name of Your Son, Christ Jesus, I pray. Amen.

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Caisson @ Arlington National Cemetery (Photo Courtesy: HBO, http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/section-60-arlington-national-cemetery/index.html)

3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) placing flags for Memorial Day in Arlington National Cemetery: (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Words to “Where Have All the Flowers Gone? by Peter Seeger

Old graveyard with purple flowers @ Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/539587599083291924/

The other photos are from my personal collection, taken by me or a friend

Pondering

Memorial Day – 2020

Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.” Per the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

Honoring those who have died in service to the United States of America is a bittersweet moment for me. I desire to honor those men and women who have placed their lives on the line for me and the country I call home.

I have two dear men, in particular, who fit that category…my Daddy and my husband, Kenneth. Both of these men died from war-inflicted wounds of contamination: my father, Ralph D, Ross – Post WWII Manhattan Project radiation, Kenneth – Agent Orange/Vietnam War. The two most special men in my life have left their earthly home….gone from my earthly life. Yet, both are with me in my heart. I loved them both dearly.

Kenneth C. Gill
US Army 101st Airborne Infantry
Served 1967 – 1970
Vietnam 4/1968 – 4/1969
born – Salem, IL 1947 – died – Lufkin, TX 2018

June 7, 2018: He served in the Vietnam War 1968-1969 with the US Army’s 101st Airborne Infantry in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. He returned to the states and completed his service with the 82nd Airborne in North Carolina. He was exposed to Agent Orange throughout that year marching through rice paddies and areas that once had been wooded areas, defoliated with AO.

Kenneth in Mason, Texas with one of his favorite characters from a book!
The author of “Old Yeller,” Fred Gipson, was from Mason.
The city library has a statue of the dog and the boy Travis.
Inside the library is a mini-museum featuring Fred Gipson.

In January, 2018, we found out he had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma which is one of the cancers connected with Agent Orange. We believe he had had it for some time due to symptoms we better understood after the fact.

Kenneth was a wonderful husband of 25 years. I was truly blessed. Thank You, Lord. As I walk these days without Kenneth, I still am filled with love for this man whom You loaned to me. I am grateful, Lord, every day. You are the One I walk with today.

Ralph D Ross
US Navy Physician
World War II – Pacific
1942 – 1945, then continuing on til his death in the US Navy
born – Sterling, KS 1913 – died – Bethesda, MD 1960

September 18, 1960: My father’s life vanished in his prime – 46, a Navy doctor, a career spiraling upwards, a lovely wife, 3 daughters (12, 10, 7). The Navy was so special to him, so much so that he did not intend to retire at the 20-year mark!  He served in WWII in the Pacific Theater as surgeon, infection control medical officer, doctor, user of Penicillin in its early days to cure Syphillis.  From 1946-1951, he became a part of the post-WWII Manhattan Project, serving as a Radiological Safety Officer, while he continued to practice medicine in the Navy.  He was on Bikini Island for Operations Crossroads in 1946, then on Eniwetok for Operations Greenhouse in 1951.  By early 1960, he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer…a death sentence then. It can be connected with radiation poisoning. Daddy was the best. I still miss him so!

My parents are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. An honor, to say the least! (The photo above was taken on a Memorial Day weekend, as told by the flag. I had a friend of a blogging friend take it while she was there. Thanks.)

Mama became a Gold Star Widow; we became Gold Star children. “They are the Gold Star children, war’s innocent victims, and their pain shimmers across the years pure and undimmed. They pass through life with an empty room in their hearts where a father was supposed to live and laugh and love.  All their lives they listen for the footstep that will never fall, and long to know what might have been.”  **

Eleanor Malcotte Ross
born – Chicago, IL 1914 – died – Portland, TX 2013

January 30, 2013: My mother was an unsung war hero, too, although she did not die from war-related causes!  Not only was she a Navy officer’s wife, but worked during the war for the Naval Supply Depot, keeping the Navy-at-war in food and other supplies. She was a special woman! Lots of fun too!

Buried with Daddy at Arlington National Cemetery.

Father, thank You for these very special people in my life. They have meant so much to me over the span of my lifetime. I am so grateful for the love I have known from each one of them. They loved me, each in their own special way. I honor the service they offered to this country. Thank You for bringing Daddy and Kenneth home from wars so that Daddy could be my father and Kenneth could be my husband. I am sorry they each died from contamination of war-related agents. I am so sorry for that…for my loss as well. I also honor the many more who died from their service to the United States of America. Please protect those many more service men and women who continue to be in harm’s way around the world, Lord. Hold those who have served but are dealing with the effects of war. Some are wanting to get ‘back-to-normal,’ others are dealing with homelessness, and others are medically or psychologically traumatized. Please care for them all, Father God. I pray all in the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Photograph: Arlington National Cemetery, Memorial Day, Flags In @ https://s.abcnews.com/images/US/160520_abc_vod_orig_memorialday_presidents_mix_16x9_992.jpg

All other photographs are my own. Please ask permission to use.

** Quoted in We Were Soldiers Once…and Young by Lt. General Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway