Winston Churchill brought the word “Victory” to the world’s attention with his V for victory sign during World War II. Today we’re in another war; this one against a different kind of foe: the COVID-19 pandemic, and we desperately need a VICTORY!
The dictionary tells us the word “victory” means the process of defeating an enemy in battle or an opponent in a contest. My first remembrance of the “V” word goes back some ninety years when, at age nine, I was attending my first high school football game. The Frisco “pep squad” led the fans in a cheer, shouting:
“Strawberry short cake, gooseberry pie, V-I-C-T-O R-Y!
Will we win it? Well, I guess! Frisco, Frisco, F H S!”
As we continue our search for a victory over COVID-19, I want to call your attention to some of the more well-known victories of which our blessed country has been apart, beginning with the Revolutionary War. Then, the War of 1812, followed by the North’s victory over the South in the Civil War, and in the late 1900s came World War l, touted to be “the war to end all wars.” Wrong! It was a bloody war fought from the trenches. Of the sixty million soldiers who fought, more than nine million were believed to have been killed. But, in the end, we (the Allies) were victorious!
Looking at World War II, the most widespread war in history, fought in both Europe and the Pacific, sixteen million Americans were involved. Of that number, approximately 389,000 of us remain, and we are dying at the rate of 370 each day. Do the math and you can see why I’m typing as fast as I can. Anyway, I’m happy to say the Allies saw victory with the signing of a peace treaty in Europe on May 8, 1945 – VE Day. The Allies had fought since 1939. The war in the Pacific fought on until the Japanese, hit by nuclear bombs, ultimately surrendered and signed a peace treaty on August 15, 1945 – VJ Day! Finally, World War II was over, and our troops were welcomed home with parades and many celebrations. VICTORY at last!
We often hear about the suffering and loss of life of our service men and women, the soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and coastguardsmen, but little is said about the civilians that occupied countries such as France. What was their life like while their territory was being attacked? We residents of an independent living facility, Parkview of Frisco, have the privilege of associating with a variety of residents who come from many locations and from all walks of life. I want to tell you about one such family, Dave and Huguette Baad. Huguette is a native of France and they met and married after the war while Dave, a CIA employee, was stationed in the Netherlands.
Huguette was only ten years old, living with her family in Paris, when the Nazis began to occupy that part of France. Her parents decided to move west to Caen, France, a city located in a now well-known part of France called Normandy. Huguette says life there was pretty quiet until the Allies stormed the beaches at Normandy and fighting moved eastward toward their city. Things then went from bad to worse in a hurry. She tells of looking up to see bombers as they opened their bomb bay doors to dump their bombs. Her family, along with other occupants of Caen, dug trenches and climbed into them to live until the allied troops drove the Nazis further east. Hearing her tell the seldom told story of what the suffering civilians in occupied territories went through can surely help us appreciate their part in the war. Thank you, Huguette!
I want to call your attention to how much our nation’s civilian population has, through the ages, supported its armed forces in so many ways. During World War I, the home folks joined our service men in singing the song which said, “Over there, over there! Send the word, send the word! Over there, we’re coming over and we won’t be back ‘til it’s over! Over there!” And they did stay until it was over.
World War II saw even more support and participation by those who stayed home. “Victory gardens” were grown to supplement the food needed by our troops. Many things, food, gasoline, tires and clothing items were rationed. Even the gold color disappeared from the packages of Old Gold cigarettes so the dye could be used to dye our GI underwear. Housewives shed their aprons and started building bombers. Men too old to fight turned to building tanks, and some, like my father, a barber, laid down their tools in favor of making ammunition shells. Everyone, even children, bought war bonds. It was an all-out effort and we won!
We have also seen victories in many ways besides wars. One especially comes to mind: the polio epidemic of the 1950s. There were 58,000 cases in 1952 and 3,200 died while 21,000 were left paralyzed. That included our President Franklin Roosevelt. However, we soon saw victory when on March 26, 1955, Dr. Salk announced his vaccine. The disease was soon erased from our country. A generation ago Africa was still fighting polio, seeing 75,000 per year. The disease is now found only in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Recently I was sitting on my balcony reading the morning paper, hoping to stay abreast of the latest pandemic news, when my attention was diverted to a thirsty crow who was trying to coax a few drops of water from an almost dry puddle in the pavement. Finding no luck there he looked around and flew directly to a nearby stream, Stewart Creek. There he found victory over his thirst by drinking to his heart’s content. I thought, “If the Lord can guide a thirsty crow to water, He can surely guide our world’s leaders to a cure for this pandemic.” Like that crow, we’re thirsty for that vital knowledge.
That brings me to the thought that if we make the proper arrangements now, we can, and will, find VICTORY, not only now but for eternity! Do I hear an amen?