In today’s hectic technological age, it was refreshing to hear that my patriotic nephews and other veterans have not forgotten our fallen comrades amidst their busy lives, taking care of wives and their children in a modern environment of freedom in which they miraculously served their military obligation. In spite of the Christian Tenant, “Thou shall not kill,” when in this world 21st Century, some radical Islamic activists have put themselves about humanity to gain personal greed and take advantage of our peace loving civilization, in order that their own selfish ideological ends may supersede world peace and universal human decency!
So when my nephew and his wife stopped in on Father’s Day weekend, I was not at all surprised to see them cut their visit short in order that my nephew (a soldier) could visit the sacred grave site of a fallen comrade he fought alongside of in Afghanistan who had paid the ultimate sacrifice of his life.
It was a joyous visit to let my wife and I know that he and his family were doing okay. But the indelible death of his friend, a member of the Flannery family of the Wyomissing area, would forever be part of his life, as my nephew has become an outstanding loving American father to prove that his dear comrade Flannery did not die in vain!
Currently, relatives are members of Salem UCC Church in the Oley Valley where Colonel John Lesher bequeathed land in 1754 for a French Huguenot church; my nephew and his father, the Reverend John Trout, had relocated to Glen Rock, PA, but my nephew currently resides in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It was a great distance to travel, but his reverence for the sacred grave of his Flannery friend was such that he would not have traveled this distance without paying homage 2 is Conrad who is buried at the Birdsboro Cemetery in Berks County.
This mortal legacy has been thrust on many area families who lost loved ones in Afghanistan. But the life lines that exists between these heroes and the mortal friends and families will never be broken. Like the American flag that waves continuously at John Lesher’s monument, this Patriot knew that lives would be lost in the American Revolution of 1776. But as a statesman and inspired Christian, he called upon a merciful God; and the two Oley Valley twins churches are perhaps the life lines that exists between early American founders and all who would dedicate their lives to Universal Decency and World Peace!
Richard H. Shaner is director of the American Folklife Institute in Kutztown.