I wrote a bit about Jack back in 2009, for a CNN Memorial Day Article. Jack's photo is on the left, second row. I had been thinking about how the loss of a single soldier costs families their future. The death of John Clarence “Jack” Blickensderfer in World War II changed our family forever. It is in honor of his sacrifice for his country that we personalize Memorial Day each year.
Our family has been fortunate that later service -- honored each Veterans Day -- was not as costly, but it too changed our family. This year three generations of veterans represent three different branches of our military. My husband, my son-in-law, my grandson each chose a branch for a variety of reasons – none of them for military tradition. Their service was not a career choice, but was service in time of need. Each returned to their family, to ‘every day’ lives.
Jack, too, responded in a time of need, at nineteen years of age. Within just a few months he graduated from flight school, celebrated his 20th birthday, flew a bomber to England and died in the skies over Hoorn, Holland on July 7, 1945.
His father wrote this after receiving word of his death:
Out of the sunlight into the gloom
The light turned off for a darkened room
I heard the words the message bore
"The one you loved so is no more."
The dreaded thought rang through my head
He's numbered now among the dead.
I stumbled on with head bowed low
For I had ever loved him so.
Ne'er again would life be bright
For I had passed from day to night.
When, quietly, a still voice said
His plan includes the honored dead.
He Who created worlds unknown
Has set a task, your very own.
Countless men have grown through sorrow
Countless more will grow tomorrow.
Reluctantly I raise my head
And saw not dark, but dawn instead.
A new day filled with mellowed light
A path to guide my steps aright.
The death of his only child was a devastating blow, but his love did grow - enough to raise two sons who remember not only their earthly father, but the heavenly Father who helped him through the darkness into His dawn.
Not with this family. We've been offered - and have accepted - light for our path.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalms 119:105 KJV)
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:15 KJV)