By Bill Tinsley
Tom Brokaw called them “The Greatest Generation.” They grew up in the Great Depression. They drove some of the first automobiles on the first paved highways in America. They went to work for the Works Progress Administration and built our nation’s infrastructure. They strung wires across our country and brought electricity and telephones to homes throughout America. They bought radios and invented the first television. They landed on the beaches at Normandy, raised the flag atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima and defended our freedom in World War II. They were the first to enter space and chose to go to the moon. Today, their generation is vanishing from the earth. They once numbered more than twelve million but only 1.2 million survive. One thousand members of the WW II generation die every day.
On Memorial weekend we remember those who have gone before and paved the way for our future.
My father’s brother entered Nuremberg, Germany on April 14, 1945 as a tank commander in the final push to occupy the city. Years later, when my wife and I went to Nuremberg to serve an English speaking church, he remembered, with the quick smile that always illumined his face, that it was difficult to get a tank through the narrow streets of the old city.
He was wounded in the battle and spent three months convalescing in the hospital in Nuremberg. With the war over, he toured Italy and Switzerland for few months following the war, then headed home. His first agenda was to seek out the love he left behind. They were soon married and spent more than sixty years as husband and wife.
In his later years the sounds of artillery returned to haunt him, one of the incurable symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Crowds and locations with loud noises bothered him. But he remained outgoing, enjoying friends and family.
As his health declined he faced death with the same courage, confidence and faith with which he faced it in his youth. He was buried January 2010 at the Oakwood Cemetery in Waco, Texas. This weekend I will remember my uncle Richard H. Tinsley, as we all remember those close to us who have been willing to put their lives on the line for our country. Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend.” (John 15:13).