Vivid reds, vibrant yellows, verdant greens; the colors were stunning. I gasped when I saw two trees next to each other, one a fiery red and the next, the vivid yellow of my old Ford Pinto. Breathtaking. We toured the hills around a national park, the hues at their peak.
Four years ago Don and I had the privilege of taking an East Coast US-Canada cruise with our brother and sister-in-law, Arnold and Carol Froese. Our trip held lots of US and Canadian history–including a stop at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. There, in early 1930, my father, his siblings and parents landed after leaving the Ukraine at the end of the Bolshevik Revolution. Grosspa (Grandpa), a pastor, was on a list for deportation to Siberia when church elders warned him to flee their village. Miraculously, of 15,000 German Mennonites seeking visas to leave Russia, Dad’s family was among the 5000 granted.
Pier 21 has a marvelous Immigration Museum which gave us additional mental pictures of Dad’s arrival in Canada. Arnold and I obtained copies of the documents which listed Grosspa, Grossma and their six living children as arrivals at the Pier. What a moment!
We stopped in other places as well, including Lexington, Massachusetts, where I was touched by the stories of those who lost their lives fighting for freedom from oppression and religious persecution. They fought for the right to be free, to worship as they chose, to make new lives for themselves.
That freedom was hard-won. It still is. William Tecumseh Sherman said “War is hell.” It is horrific, the losses on both sides tragic. And yet, we would not be a free nation had others not fought and given their lives to preserve that freedom.
And now we have another election ahead of us. What changes will the outcome of this election hold? Will our choices retain freedom or give more of it away? I don’t wish to debate politics because I love and respect people who think differently than I do. Our freedom gives each of us the right to choose as our consciences dictate. But I do encourage you to vote on the candidates and issues.
Let’s continue to respect and uphold this privilege we have because others paid the ultimate sacrifice.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…” (I Timothy 2:1-3 NIV)