Recently I toured one of the last fully operational landing ships from World War II. My father was a WWII veteran, and I was always interested in the history of that era.
I walked into the bay area, where tanks and other military equipment were once off-loaded. Incredibly, after more than a half-century, I could almost feel the presence of the young soldiers who had occupied the ship. I walked through the spartan, 4-hammock-high berth area and could easily imagine them resting, playing cards, smoking cigarettes, and passing the time “in between.” On the top deck, I gravitated to the big gun mounts strategically arranged. Through the sites, I could see the steeple of a church downtown. Each gun was manned by five men, the guide explained, and each had a specific duty. Imagine the terror of trying to aim and shoot effectively while being shot at, the sounds of screaming and explosions all around.
Courage under fire. Maintaining one’s inner fortitude while trying to stay alive. Most of us, thankfully, have never had to experience that kind of horror. But could we have survived? Would I?
I’ve been thinking a lot about courage lately. I suppose it comes from growing older, losing people, and coming to grips with my own weaknesses or strengths. One of the ultimate tests of courage is that shown in life-or-death situations. People who put their own lives on the line to save others, such as fire and rescue workers, law enforcement, emergency medical techs, etc., have my utmost respect. Would I put myself in danger to save a loved one? Yes, of course. But would I do so for a stranger? That I’m not so sure of. I’m not all that selfless.
Some people I’ve known, many of them gone now from this earth, had a different kind of courage. Despite being in pain, debilitated with disease or illness, they exuded awe-inspiring grace and bravery. I think of my mother, who suffered from multiple maladies that she didn’t discuss, yet always worried about how I was doing. Selfish as I was, I seldom asked how she was doing. Of course, she wouldn’t have told me the truth if I had. Or my uncle, who told jokes at his own expense right up until the bitter end. He loved to make people laugh and planned his own services with that in mind. How tough does one have to be, to know death is near and basically laugh at it?
I think of other relatives and friends who smile, don’t fuss or whine, while they suffer from the misery of cancer. They look forward to each day as a precious gift. While I, in decent health, often look at the darkest part of life, bringing sadness to myself when I should be happy. And glad to be alive.
I think I need to say, out loud if necessary, that I am glad to be alive. And like the Wizard of Oz lion, I know I have courage inside me. We all have the will to survive, sometimes against great odds. Sometimes it takes a great deal of strength just to get up and face the day.
Stay strong, my friends. Be like the lion if necessary.
OMP Admin Note: Michele Potter is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues.
Michele is an incredibly diverse and talented writer who I hope will collect her short stories and make them available on Amazon someday soon. In the meantime, her story PERCEPTIONS is available in the guest author section of the flash fiction anthology BITE SIZE STORIES VOLUME ONE.
Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.
If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.
Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.