Mr. Bill and Miz Mona

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pre-Easter 4/7/12

Mr. Bill says: Some of you may have already read about this on my Moose Pass Journal, but I wanted to add this event to our blog. Today, James Arthur Lee Casselman returned home safely from Afghanistan. Becca, his loving wife, set things up so he could surprise his two daughters- an Easter surprise. She filmed this and shared it on her Face Book site, allowing us to share in the moment of this little 4 year old girl jumping with delight to see her daddy and being swept up in his arms. The youngest daughter, Claire, who is 10 months old, will she looked a bit bewildered in wondering what was going on and I have no idea who the other people in the video were.

I must admit, having gone through my own war- NO, not World War II as some local teenagers believe, but Viet Nam, I was always concerned when John, Joshua and then James went over to the sand box. I knew things could happen, to God fearing Christians, Jews or atheists- this is war and all the sadness involved. My grandfather on my Dad's side fought in his war, my Dad fought in Korea at 17 yrs old and I journeyed off to the Far East to see the elephant myself. To see the elephant was a phrase brought about in the Civil War, of how young men went off to see and feel the excitement of war, much like boys ran away to join the circus and play with the elephants. Sadly, they saw war for what it was- horrible.

Like any parent, especially one who has been in a war, I prayed every day for the safety of my sons. I knew things could happen and hoped it wouldn't happen to one of our boys. But, being a veteran and a patriot, I was also proud of my sons going off to join. I know my daughters wanted to join, but events took place to alter their plans. Now they serve as mothers, parents to a new generation of Casselmans- at least one half of them. The other half... well, I guess they count too. :)

My beautiful Mona was also a veteran and I thank God she was, or we may never have met. Through her, I came to know the Lord and for 32 years we've been together through the thick and thin of it. As I have said many a time, she was the perfect cop's wife and was always ready to stand beside me when things turned sour and people would've loved to have harmed us. Our first year of marriage was forged in that steel, when things fell apart in Dillingham and I was the only cop left. Pretty scary for a while. Well, she's passed that trait down to our children, though sometimes they have to be reminded of it. We have tough kids and the pioneer stock of the Sanders is strong in them. Oh, I imagine the survival instinct of the city boy rom my side carries some weight.

Long ago, my father, who didn't relish living in a Wisconsin orphanage, placed there by his mother so he and his sister could eat, ran away to find his father. He was 8 yrs old. They found him in Texas and dragged him back. One year later, he broke out again and rode the rails to California and did locate his dad. They remained together until my Dad joined the Army at 17 and left for Japan. When the bugle was called in Korea, his armor unit was the first one called in. When the Chinese came across, nearly one million strong, my dad and his friends ran for 80-miles to escape and this was during the Korean winter. Hard task for a  new 18 year old.

I know John, James and Joshua have learned a lot over there in Afghanistan and Iraq, and their memories of those times will remain with them forever. Maybe the heat, the lack of privacy, sleeping through mortar attacks, friendships and brotherhood, will be the only memories and for this I would be thankful.

I never got to talk to my Grandpa about his war, he died when I was five. But after coming home from Viet Nam, my father grabbed a couple beers out of the frig and we walked out into his backyard. For the first time, he shared with me about Korea. He said that now that I knew about war, I would be able to understand. That day I felt something special in our relationship, though we never talked about it again. It was one time thing, because he didn't like bringing up those moments in fear of his own nightmares. Now I've learned that talking about Viet Nam has helped me overcome a lot of my dragons. Oh, there are some moments I will not talk about, but I love to share about the good times- the jokes and pranks we pulled to get by. My kids have grown up hearing these tales- over and over and over again. Now they have their own to tell and I sincerely hope their kids will listen and remember. Some things need to be passed on from one generation to the next, this is the history of our families.

When I came home from Viet Nam, there was no one waiting for me at the airport and apparently no one knew I was due in. I had to borrow $17 from my closest friend to fly south and I guess I never did pay him back. Imagine what the interest rate could be over 38 yrs?

I only say this as a way to help Becca understand how happy I was to see that video, it met a lot to both Mona and I. Thank you. Hug him for us. He looked good, but I did notice a bit of a balding spot- same place I have one....kidding.

Enjoy this Easter, all of you and God Bless!

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