My aunt just said, ‘Go get them quickly!’
I ran to the fields and got them both. As they stomped their feet they looked to Aunt Titus. ‘What’s the matter?’
‘Come in here!’ The radio was on in the parlor and Aunt Titus knitting was on the floor where she had dropped it.
We all listened as we heard that the Korean War had started. It was June 25, 1950. North Korea had invaded South Korea and the United States was sending troops to aid South Korea. I had no idea what this meant but my father was very serious. We all prayed that day. I went and got Betsy and Jane. We joined in the grown ups prayers that day.
The grown ups were very shaken yet they went back to work. My aunt was silent as she peeled potatoes. I could see her lips moving as she worked. Some of the peelings fell on the floor but she didn’t notice. I scooped them up and put them in the garbage. I tried to help my aunt that day.
A few days later the mail man brought a letter for my father. All of the grown ups sat around him in the parlor as he opened it. My aunt burst into tears. As my uncle tried to keep her calm, we children were told to go outside to play. My little sisters skipped off to the swing but I sat on the back porch near the screen door to listen.
‘Listen Ed, you can file a section 3-A. You have those little children. If you get inducted into the service it would be a hardship for them. You are a widower.’ my uncle said.
There was a heavy sigh and my father spoke. ‘I know, but my kids are here with you and Aunt Titus. I know they would be all right. Somehow, I think I should go. I don’t want to. I need to pray about this. I don’t have to show up until Monday.’
I couldn’t understand why my father would go anywhere. I really wasn’t supposed to be listening at all so I couldn’t ask questions. That day I went off to play with my sisters and forgot about it.
Sunday at church many of the women were weeping. I saw tears in some of the men’s eyes too. ‘What’s the matter Aunt Titus? Why is everyone crying.’ My aunt hugged me for a long time. I heard her clear her throat before she spoke.
‘My dear girl, there is a war going on now. Many of the men and some women too are going to help fight it for South Korea’s freedom. They were invaded by North Korea. ‘
‘Women too?’ I asked.
‘Yes, women nurses are going too.’ she answered.
I wondered about my father just then. Silence filled the car as we drove home. Aunt Titus made a wonderful chicken dinner with apple pie for dessert. My sisters and I loved fried chicken. After dessert was finished my father asked us to go to the parlor before cleaning up the dishes.
Aunt Titus and Uncle Sam looked at each other. My sisters and I climbed onto our favorite chair. We were so skinny we all fit. Dad sat on a stool in front of us. ‘Girls, you know how much I love you. I don’t want to have to tell you this but I am going away. There is some awful things happening in South Korea to little kids just like you. ‘
I began to cry and became angry all at once. ‘You don’t have to go anywhere, you could file that section 3-A that uncle Sam talked about. Why do you have to go? It’s not fair. Mom died and now we are going to have no one! ‘ My little sisters began to cry too. My father reached out and gathered us all in his arms.
‘If someone came to our city and began killing everyone, I would want someone to help us. Wouldn’t you?’
‘No! It’s not going to happen! I don’t want you to go!’ I was sniffling and crying all at once. My aunt gently pried us away from our father who was crying quietly himself.
Uncle Sam hugged my father. ‘I know you prayed about this Ed. This is so hard. But, we’ll take care of these girls like they were our own.’
My aunt brought us out to the kitchen and sat down at the table with us. The tears were running down all of our eyes. ‘Girls, we are going to be strong now. Our God spoke to your father about going. He is being obedient. Now, you wouldn’t want him to be a disobedient son of our Lord would you?’ She dried our faces with her apron. I remember she held us all. One of us on each side and little Jane on her lap. ‘Now, let’s go into the parlor quietly and pray with your father and uncle Sam.’ When she stood up she wiped her own face.
I was still very angry and afraid but Aunt Titus helped calm us down. I remember that night like it was last night. We all prayed for the people in Korea on both sides. We prayed for their salvation. We prayed for our father’s protection.
The following morning our father went and joined the air force. Once again he sat down with us. ‘Now, before I leave there are a few things I need for you three to do. Consider it, your donation to this war effort. First, Jane and Betsy I want you both to do everything your aunt and uncle ask. Is that clear?’ They both nodded. ‘Good, I knew I could count on you. Now, Susan I want you to write me a letter at least once a month. Take your allowance I left with your aunt and use it for stamps. OK? Also, I expect excellent behavior and for you to be an example for your two little sisters. No bossiness, just a loving example.’ I nodded, feeling very important.
A week later he was gone.
That Wednesday after Dad left, several other men left too. It was difficult for my aunt. The women came to the bible study feeling very sad. A young woman was left with a young infant. Another had two older teen age girls who were acting up. Another woman suddenly had to mow her own lawn as well as take care of five children. Another women had a toilet back up and still another found her two teen age boys drinking behind the house.
Aunt Titus bowed her head and prayed aloud. ‘Lord give us your safety and guide us. Watch over your children and our husbands too. We trust all things into your hands.’
My aunt grabbed a notebook and wrote it all down. ‘ Ladies, I was here during WWII. I remember my mother was involved with a church group that began an outreach.
Our husbands and brothers are not here now. However, we have some resources. Some of men in our church are available to help guide the boys. I am sure they would if someone asked them. Sam and I will start to make some plans. We need babysitters, the older girls need responsibility. The lawns need mowing. The boys want to earn some cash and I think many of us can put them to work. Of course, if you can't pay we'll think of something. Now, lets get to work. It’s time to praise the Lord and thank him for what we do have. There is food in the pantry. A roof over our head. We are a church family too. We are going to ask God for ways to help our neighbor.’
‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ Philippians 4:13 is our memory verse this week.’