Reply from Paula Fassett (71):
Bill Hosmer’s mention of singing Christmas carols made me think about the years when Don Johnson organized the community chorus. I think this has been discussed on this site before, but what the heck – it bears repeating! My Dad sang in the choir – Mom didn’t, she wasn’t a singer. I remember going to the concerts in the old city hall – it was a very merry event. One year when Diane Hill was about 4, Don lifted her up and sat her on the piano and she sang a solo – I don’t remember the song she sang – but it was pretty amazing since she was such a little girl. Some of the grade school classes would perform, too. I don’t remember which grade I was in, but I remember being the accompanist for my class – probably a few classes together – getting up to sing with the choir.
Do any of the old Lutherans out there remember the Sunday School Christmas programs in the old Dunseith Lutheran church? As kids, we all had speaking parts – I HATED that – and we’d sing a few carols. Then there were always Christmas presents from your Sunday School teacher…and a bag of candy for each kid….that was the part we all looked forward to! There was always an apple or orange in the bag, LOTS of peanuts, some hard Christmas candy and always that chocolate covered mint thing (not my favorite, obviously). I think the program used to be on Christmas Eve back then??
Wesley Schneider’s childhood memories “Stille-Nacht”
Posted by Vickie Metcalfe (70):
Gary and Friends,
I realized this eve,while crossing the street, “This day is short.” Darkness came abruptly at about 5:00. Six months ago it could not be summoned til 10:00 p.m. What a five hour difference and snow, snow, snow.!
Knocking at the door of my neighbors, the dogs sought and got their treat.
And I, join Wes and Ovidia as they set up to supper to dine on homemade steaming hot chicken noodle soup, venison sausage, fruit salad and homemade applesauce.
Of course, Wes sitting between me and Ovidia made certain I am to have a scoop out of any dish that passes before him, back and forth, back and forth. They are as generous to me as they are with my dogs.
I share with Wes an e-mail from the Blog.
Then, I ask Wes, to recall his “Memories of Christmas Past”.
The Schneider home in those yesteryears did not have electricity. The main source of lighting were the kerosene lanterns lit as darkness descended.
After supper, a story might be told. One night, his brother while using hand motions to tell a story hit the globe off the lantern. KEROSENE__ mayhem! All action stopped__ while the kerosene was wiped up. Then the story proceeded.
Wes said, “He recalls getting Christmas gifts and they always had a Christmas tree.” “His parents were very cautious and only lit the candles attached to the tree branches when everyone was gathered around the tree.” Often, his sisters who loved music would start the singing and others would harmonize. Some would play instruments to accompany.
Songs were sung in the families first language. “Stille Nicht”
And of course on the eve before, the Bedtime excitement! One Christmas morning memory, Wes hearing a jingle,woke his little brother, “Warren! Listen! Santa! ” The jingling continued, high__ on__ the roof top. The two boys in their under wear scampered to the window.
jingle,JINGLE The metal milch bucket came rolling, faster, rolling over the edge of the roof.” The boys looked down at the bucket laying in a snowdrift. Down at their big brother grinning, walking off, off, off into the distance.
Off to the barn to the morning choresŠ..chuckling.
Ryan Zorn, Son of Myron (65) & JoAnn was killed in Iraq November 16, 2009
Recap with an airline captains letter
From Sharon Zorn Gerdes (62): Windsor, CO
Gary, I don’t know that you would ever have room to include this, but I thought it was so good I wanted to send it. Mary Eurich sent it to me. I can tell you this is all so true. When my nephew Ryan (Myron Zorn’s  son) was killed in Iraq last November, it was amazing how much happened that was just heart wrenching. When his body came to the tiny town of Gillette, Wyoming, it was on a private jet. On the ground was an honor guard, and beside them were 200 freedom riders ( Vietnam vets and other vets who attend military funerals, stand for hours with flags, and keep protestors from getting close). Then there were 10,000 people lining the streets and freeway and overpasses , waving flags and saluting. Vehicles of all types stopped and got out and stood as the hearse went by. Schools had been closed and little children were standing in groups waving flags.
The funeral had a constant honor guard,( changing of the guard), there were many many vets, including one gentleman in his late 80’s who still got into his uniform. The state governor, two senators, a representative, a bird colonel, a five star general, — the list goes on and on of the people who came. And this for a normal kid who no one knew, but the response was overwhelming. The army was unbelievable with all they did and offered to the family. They have so many very beautiful mementos and calls and letters and items people made from all over the US. I could go on forever, but I spoke with a colonel, and he said they learned a lesson from the treatment the Viet nam soldiers received when they came home, and that the army is going out of its way to make every single detail taken care of now, and the utmost respect and care given. Its also amazing how they send the bodies first to Dover, and regardless of what shape the body is in, even if its just pieces, those parts are carefully cleaned and groomed and placed in a new uniform before its sent to the soldiers home. The army sends the family to several memorial services, including when Ryans troup came home. They called his name at roll-call and had an empty chair where he would have set.
I just wanted to share a few things after I saw that airline captain email. The soldier will never be replaced, but the branches of the service are trying hard, and I do think that America is thankful for the tremendous debt we have to our servicemen. Thanks. Sharon Gerdes.
Sharon, I most certainly have room and if I did not, I would make room for this. You have such a good way with words too. This letter is beautifully written. I have included the Airline Captains letter below. It’s touching. Gary
MAY GOD BLESS THIS AIRLINE CAPTAIN:
My lead flight attendant came to me and said, “We have an H.R. on this flight.” (H.R. stands for human remains.) “Are they military?”
‘Yes’, she said.
‘Is there an escort?’ I asked..
‘Yes, I already assigned him a seat’.
‘Would you please tell him to come to the flight deck. You can board him early,” I said..
A short while later, a young army sergeant entered the flight deck. He was the image of the perfectly dressed soldier.
He introduced himself and I asked him about his soldier. The escorts of these fallen soldiers talk about them as if they are still alive and still with us.
‘My soldier is on his way back to Virginia ,’ he said.
He proceeded to answer my questions, but offered no words.
I asked him if there was anything I could do for him and he said no. I told him that he had the toughest job in the military and that I appreciated the work that he does for the families of our fallen soldiers.
The first officer and I got up out of our seats to shake his hand. He left the flight deck to find his seat.
We completed our preflight checks, pushed back and performed an uneventful departure.
About 30 minutes into our flight I received a call from the lead flight attendant in the cabin.
‘I just found out the family of the soldier we are carrying, is on board’, she said. She then proceeded to tell me that the father, mother, wife and 2-year old daughter were escorting their son, husband, and father home. The family was upset because they were unable to see the container that the soldier was in before we left. We were on our way to a major hub at which the family was going to wait four hours for the connecting flight home to Virginia .
The father of the soldier told the flight attendant that knowing his son was below him in the cargo compartment and being unable to see him was too much for him and the family to bear. He had asked the flight attendant if there was anything that could be done to allow them to see him upon our arrival. The family wanted to be outside by the cargo door to watch the soldier being taken off the airplane.. I could hear the desperation in the flight attendants voice when she asked me if there was anything I could do.. ‘I’m on it’, I said. I told her that I would get back to her.
Airborne communication with my company normally occurs in the form of e-mail like messages.
I decided to bypass this system and contact my flight dispatcher directly on a secondary radio.
There is a radio operator in the operations control center who connects you to the telephone of the dispatcher.
I was in direct contact with the dispatcher.. I explained the situation I had on board with the family and what it was the family wanted.
He said he understood and that he would get back to me.
Two hours went by and I had not heard from the dispatcher. We were going to get busy soon and I needed to know what to tell the family.
I sent a text message asking for an update. I saved the return message from the dispatcher and the following is the text:
‘Captain, sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. There is policy on this now and I had to check on a few things.
Upon your arrival a dedicated escort team will meet the aircraft.
The team will escort the family to the ramp and plane side. A van will be used to load the remains with a secondary van for the family. The family will be taken to their departure area and escorted into the terminal where the remains can be seen on the ramp. It is a private area for the family only.
When the connecting aircraft arrives, the family will be escorted onto the ramp and plane side to watch the remains being loaded for the final leg home.. Captain, most of us here in flight control are veterans. Please pass our condolences on to the family. Thanks.’
I sent a message back telling flight control thanks for a good job. I printed out the message and gave it to the lead flight attendant to pass on to the father. The lead flight attendant was very thankful and told me, ‘You have no idea how much this will mean to them.’
Things started getting busy for the descent, approach and landing. After landing, we cleared the runway and taxied to the ramp area.
The ramp is huge with 15 gates on either side of the alleyway. It is always a busy area with aircraft maneuvering every which way to enter and exit.
When we entered the ramp and checked in with the ramp controller, we were told that all traffic was being held for us.
‘There is a team in place to meet the aircraft’, we were told. It looked like it was all coming together, then I realized that once we turned the seat belt sign off, everyone would stand up at once and delay the family from getting off the airplane. As we approached our gate, I asked the copilot to tell the ramp controller we were going to stop short of the gate to make an announcement to the passengers. He did that and the ramp controller said, ‘Take your time.’
I stopped the aircraft and set the parking brake. I pushed the public address button and said, ‘Ladies and gentleman, this is your Captain speaking I have stopped short of our gate to make a special announcement. We have a passenger on board who deserves our honor and respect.
His Name is Private XXXXXX, a soldier who recently lost his life. Private XXXXXX is under your feet in the cargo hold. Escorting him today is Army Sergeant XXXXXXX.
Also, on board are his father, mother, wife, and daughter. Your entire flight crew is asking for all passengers to remain in their seats to allow the family to exit the aircraft first. Thank you.’
We continued the turn to the gate, came to a stop and started our shutdown procedures.
A couple of minutes later I opened the cockpit door. I found the two forward flight attendants crying, something you just do not see.
I was told that after we came to a stop, every passenger on the aircraft stayed in their seats, waiting for the family to exit the aircraft.
When the family got up and gathered their things, a passenger slowly started to clap his hands.
Moments later more passengers joined in and soon the entire aircraft was clapping.
Words of ‘God Bless You’, I’m sorry, thank you, be proud, and other kind words were uttered to the family as they made their way down the aisle and out of the airplane. They were escorted down to the ramp to finally be with their loved one.
Many of the passengers disembarking thanked me for the announcement I had made.
They were just words, I told them, I could say them over and over again, but nothing I say will bring back that brave soldier.
I respectfully ask that all of you reflect on this event and the sacrifices that millions of our men and women have made to ensure our freedom and safety in these United States of AMERICA .
As a Viet Nam Veteran I can only think of all the veterans including the ones that r ode below the deck on their way home and how they we were treated.
When I read things like this I am proud that our country has not turned their backs on our soldiers returning from the various war zones today and give them the respect they so deserve.
I know every one who has served their country who reads this will have tears in their eyes, including me.
Prayer chain for our Military… Don’t break it!
Please send this on after a short prayer for our service men and women.
Don’t break it!
They die for me and mine and you and yours and deserve our honor and respect.
Prayer: ‘Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. Amen.’
Folks, Noel (Nolan), the guy in red and the father of this family died suddenly yesterday morning. He was 31 years old. I am posting this because, this is one of the families that is being helped with monthly contributions from one of our Alumni. We received a check several days ago for Christmas gifts for these kids too of which may have to be used for funeral expenses. Noel’s wife had gone to early mass with the children yesterday morning. When she returned home Noel was blue and barely conscience. He was rushed to the hospital and was DOA. His body is now in a casket located in his uncles house across the street from our garage. Noel had jobs hit and miss and was the bread winner of the family. As long as we have known them, they have lived in a small shelter/shack (not a house) with dirt a dirt floor behind his brothers house across the road from our garage. They are such nice folks, always happy go lucky. Whenever Noel would see us leaving with our car, he would always be right there to direct traffic for us to back our car out of the garage. Gary