Like almost all children in the early 1950’s my dad was a WWII veteran. My uncles and grandfather were too. Deployed from Camp Pendleton in San Diego, they hopped from one island to another across the Pacific to defeat the Japanese. Wading towards those islands and their immense defenses took amazing courage and patriotism. Often half of the Marines would die before reaching those beaches. They saw it all and somehow survived.
But for many of those veterans, after coming home, they swallowed all of their horrible memories in alcohol. Too often though, this just released their demons. And their wives and children were terrified and suffered greatly. – I was one. – In his nightmarish rages my father would sometimes try to kill us. We were thrown out of windows, beaten with broken furniture and chased with butcher knives. Our lives were always immersed in terror and fear.
And as soon as I could, I left home. By the time I was 13, I was gone. I lived with friends from school for awhile and tried to be normal and go to school. But no one wanted me to stay for very long. So I became a homeless waif. I wandered to Mexico, to Canada and across the US. – I slept in bushes, forests, beaches, in rain gutters and with a few people that took me in. – It was an uncertain life and sometimes dangerous and scary; but, it was always much better than where I had come from.
What gave me strength and calmed my fears was my faith in God. It must have been his foreknowledge and mercy that caused God to reveal himself to me mightily when I was 4. He instilled a profound faith in me that always gave me hope for a better future. — Having the certainty that God was with me, gave me strength and comfort and the faith that I needed through my travels and travails..
God has taken my hand throughout my life. He led me to safety. He even made it possible for me to go to college, get married, to become a successful businessman, to have wonderful children, to teach high school and to become a Christian pastor. Now, he has given me the blessing of helping US veterans and their families through HirePatriots and our Patriotic Hearts programs. – He has taken me full circle.
Praise the Lord!
P.S. I do not know what it is like to not believe in God. — And I think that all children naturally accept the truth of God’s existence, just as I did. Because whenever I have spoken to the many children I have taught and coached for forty years, they all nodded their heads in agreement and looked at me with eyes of belief when I told them about their Creator and his love for them.