Thursday, December 26, 2013

Putting Your Christmas In Perspective

I hope everyone had a truly wonderful Christmas, filled with the best the season has to offer. We certainly did.

Christmas night, after opening presents and stuffing myself with an incredible Christmas dinner, I sat down to browse the Internet. I ran across several posts discussing the stress of the holiday - shopping, traffic, relatives, and so forth. We all have to deal with those to one extent or the other. They can certainly be a downer during what is supposed to be a joyous time of the year.

Then I came across this story.
As Christmas 1970 approached, 43 American prisoners of war in a large holding cell at the North Vietnamese camp known as the Hanoi Hilton sought to hold a brief church service. Their guards stopped them, and so the seeds of rebellion were planted.

A few days later, Lt. Cmdr. Edwin A. Shuman III, a downed Navy pilot, orchestrated the resistance, knowing he would be the first to face the consequences: a beating in a torture cell.

“Ned stepped forward and said, ‘Are we really committed to having church Sunday? I want to know person by person,’ ” a fellow prisoner, Leo K. Thorsness, recounted in a memoir. “He went around the cell pointing to each of us individually,” Mr. Thorsness continued. “When the 42nd man said yes, it was unanimous. At that instant, Ned knew he would end up in the torture cells.”

The following Sunday, Commander Shuman, who died on Dec. 3 at 82, stepped forward to lead a prayer session and was quickly hustled away by guards. The next four ranking officers did the same, and they, too, were taken away to be beaten. Meanwhile, as Mr. Thorsness told it, “the guards were now hitting P.O.W.s with gun butts and the cell was in chaos.”

And then, he remembered, the sixth-ranking senior officer began, “Gentlemen, the Lord’s Prayer.”

“And this time,” he added, “we finished it.”

The guards had yielded.
That puts my Christmas issues into perspective.

Commander Shuman came home in March 1973 as part of a mass release of POWs. He retired from the Navy as a captain in 1984. His commendations included the Silver Star for his resistance while imprisoned. He died on Dec. 3, 2013, from complications of surgery on a leg he broke when he fell while preparing to hunt geese.

Quite a guy. We could use a lot more like him.

Merry Christmas and RIP to Captain Shuman and his shipmates.

Lt. Cmdr. Edwin A. Shuman III


Toejam said...

I salute you Lt. Cmdr. Edwin A. Shuman III

Rest in Peace.

Old NFO said...

Yep, they stood for what they believed in...

CenTexTim said...

Toejam and NFO - right on!