Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Hebron Crossroads 6-06-04
By Jeff Gill

School ended this week for pretty much everyone within ear and eyeshot of this column; I will not insult you by assuming you drive recklessly by day through the school year, and will slow down by hearing that more kids are on the streets.
But they are, and you should.
Perhaps it would help to get the kids off the streets and into Vacation Bible Schools, which start as soon as the summer begins. Here are the VBS’s that many in the Lakewood region enjoy and benefit from, and you may still send info if there are any I’ve missed for our general area.
In order that they happen:

Heath Church of Christ (on Hebron Road)
June 21-25 9 am to Noon
"Camp Creation"
info: 522-8402

First Community, Buckeye Lake
June 21-25 6 to 9 pm
"Lava Lava Island"
info: Maggie Blade, 928-4615

Jacksontown United Methodist
July 19-23 6:30 to 8:30 pm
"Lava Lava Island"
info: 323-4429

Hebron Community VBS
at Hebron United Methodist, E. Main St.
(with Hebron Christian)
July 30 eve. & 31 all day
info: 928-2471

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Buckeye Lake
July 19-23 5:30 to 8 pm
“Jesus Expedition”
info: 928-3264

Stacey Hoffman, the director of the last listed VBS, made a delightful sign that stood in the play area of Canal Park for the Crossroads Festival that showed all these dates.
Stacey, Kim Gowdy, and many others with Hebron PTO and the village staff have much to be proud of, and this column will share more next week about the festival.

Today, June 6, is the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, the beginning of the end of World War II.
Memorial Day weekend brought many memories to the fore around the dedication of the new National World War II Memorial in Washington, and a concert program on PBS included a harrowing and moving first person recollection of the day from the actor Charles Durning, who was there with the initial landing.
Some of you may have heard other stories from Omaha Beach, or the parachute landings behind the coastline and into the deadly hedgerows.
Two stories that weave through the D-Day narrative for me come from very unusual perspectives that I had the honor to hear firsthand.

One comes from sixth grade, when we had a month studying various countries, with art and recipes and guest speakers. When we came to Germany, a classmate had an uncle now living in town who grew up there, and he was invited to speak to us.
It was years later that I came to appreciate how carefully he chose his words, and explained the situation, as he told us of the late night knock at the door, the three men in the “draft party,” and his forced enlistment in the German Wehrmacht.
But even then I understood that there was something quite unusual about hearing of a person’s fears and doubts and unwillingness to be there on Normandy’s beaches: looking down on the sands through a pillbox slit. How long did he fight, and how hard? All this was, as I think I recall, quite vague; there was nothing indefinite about how over thirty years later he was thankful to be captured, humanely treated, and to end up an American citizen.

My other D-Day memory comes from an elderly woman with a thick Dutch accent, who had helped care for a parishioner of mine in West Virginia, lying in the bed next to hers in an extended care unit of our local hospital. She did not know this woman, but simply wanted to care for someone very near the end of her life.
So it was no surprise that Antje, years before, had been part of the Resistance in her native Netherlands. I continued to come and visit her long after the neighbor had passed away, and she told me stories, many sad, some tragic, a few precious happy ones.
When the 50th anniversary of D-Day came along, I asked Antje on one visit if she recalled D-Day. “Oh yes,” she said, “I never forget it. I was on a streetcar in Rotterdam, carrying a message of a drop coming that night of ammunition. My pocketbook was in my lap, and I was very nervous, very nervous indeed. But then from one of the storefronts, the word was shouted out of the landing in France, that the radio said the Allies were coming, that Americans had entered Europe. And for the rest of the ride, as more passed the word along, I was not nervous, all the way to the edge of the city; not nervous at all.”
Antje is gone now, but not her story. And now you know it too.

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and a collector and teller of stories; if you have one to share, call 928-4066 or e-mail disciple@voyager.net. That goes for VBS tales, too!