Monday, June 23, 2014

Rosie the Riveter Goes to Convention

    What a fun group of Rosies, their daughters, granddaughters, husbands, sons, and other guests gathered in Omaha, Nebraska recently for the 2014 Convention/Reunion of the American Rosie the Riveter Association! Even though these ladies are now in their late 80's and early 90's, there were 20 spry and spunky Rosies present, and 18 states were represented in the group. It was my privilege to join them with my Rosie mom!

     Besides lots of good times for sharing and comparing stories, we also heard the amazing story of a Holocaust survivor, who thanked the Rosies for their work that helped win the war sooner. The Nebraska Governor's wife brought greetings and read a proclamation from the Governor, and we learned about the North Platte Canteen, an incredible volunteer effort during the war to feed thousands of soldiers and sailors every single day, as their troop trains stopped in the tiny town of North Platte, Nebraska, which happened to be a railroad hub. Never heard of it? Watch a video about it here.
     Another highlight of the weekend was a tour of the Strategic Air and Space Museum, which houses several WW II aircraft. Imagine how much these ladies enjoyed seeing these planes that many of them had riveted, wired, and helped to build!
     As always, I was captivated by the stories of these ladies and their willing spirit and their dedication to their jobs. When WW II began, they were not expecting to go to work as welders, mechanics, riveters, electricians, or drivers. They didn't ask to take on all the work of the farms as the men went to war, and make the sacrifices that became necessary as the war wore on. But they said, "We Can Do It!" and they did it! It was a pleasure and a privliege to hang out with them!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Remembering Dad

      Today is Father's Day, but one that is different from any my family has ever experienced. We are missing my wonderful dad, Dr. John T. Carter, who passed away on March 2 of this year, at the age of 92. But how fortunate I was to be able to call him my dad!
     We had a precious Celebration of Life service in his honor a few weeks ago, and afterward - according to his wishes - everyone was invited for taco salad. So typical - he didn't want sadness!
     There were many ways that my dad was special to the world - from the many students he touched during 30+ years as Professor and Dean at Samford University, to the thousands he touched through his mission trips and writing projects.
     But his family knew him in some other ways, too. Growing up, our family was my mom (to whom he was married for almost 68 years), my brother Wayne, and me. Daddy was The Great Explainer, a teacher to the core, whether it was introducing me to algebra at a young age (and it made sense!), or showing us how to dip boxwood cuttings in a special substance so they would root better (and paid us 10 cents for every cutting that rooted, BTW!), or being always ready to tickle our brains with a riddle ("A hunter left his cabin and walked 1 mile due south, 1 mile due east, then saw a bear, then walked 1 mile due north and ended up back at his cabin. What color was the bear?"), or set us on an adventure, like the around-the-world trip our family took when I was ten, so he and Mother could teach at Hong Kong Baptist College while on a semester sabbatical from Samford ("Well, we have been advised to change our plans and not go to Athens tomorrow because of riots - what do you say we go to Pompeii instead?"). 
      He was a farmer (with a doctorate in agricultural education), as well as a scholar (with a doctorate in agricultural education). He was a writer, a poet (you should see the poems he wrote for my mom!), a patriot, and an inventor, with a dry wit that caught a lot of people by surprise. My children dubbed him "hard core" because of episodes like the time one Saturday that the wheel rim fell on his hand while he was changing his own tire (in his 80's) on a deserted Samford campus, but after about 20 minutes, he was finally able to flag down a student to help him get the car off his hand, then he insisted on driving himself to the emergency room.
     He had occasion to preach once in a while, and he would say, "I'm a bootleg preacher - I'm dispensing the gospel without a license." My 10-year-old self has never forgotten the sermon he preached at a church in Egypt on that trip around the world - his text was Hebrews 12:1-2. I learned to love God through my godly parents, and I am so very grateful.
    For the last 16 years, Dad helped Mother as she began a national organization called the American Rosie the Riveter Association, which honors women who worked during World War II. He faithfully helped her plan conventions and send out publicity, and he typed her correspondence and newsletter articles so often that she started taking him to lunch during Secretary's Week. He wore his original paratrooper uniform to give presentations with Mother called "Rosie and Her Paratrooper" in several states across the country.
     Dad rode a glider plane into the 1944 invasion of southern France that followed D-Day. He became rather famous in veteran circles for telling "The Turkey Story" (watch it here on YouTube) about the time he volunteered to cook a Thanksgiving turkey with no kitchen or mess hall on the Italian border. So he typed that one and some more WW II stories on his computer last summer and bound them into a little tablet, even though he had had a stroke by then and it wasn't easy. He called it Some Side-Lights of Operation Dragoon and enjoyed giving it away at a Dragoon reunion last summer. Last fall we added some photos, formatting, and additional stories, and made it into a book, which he continued to enjoy giving away, especially to veterans.
     Dad had a favorite saying: "I want to live 'til I die." And he absolutely did. The song says, "May all who come behind us find us faithful." Thank you, Daddy. Those of us coming behind you have certainly found you to be faithful.