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When to Say “Thank You”
by Rubel Shelley

    Charles Fackler served his country. He was not a career military man, and he served long before war was waged with long-range missiles and smart bombs. He was an American doughboy who fought with distinction in World War I.

    Fackler fought his country’s enemies on the ground, looking directly into their faces. He was wounded by both bullets and shrapnel. He was gassed more than once. Yet he continued to slog through the fields and forests of France.

    “It was called the Bucket of Blood,” recalled Fackler of the Meuse-Argonne offensive of September 1918. “We survived like animals in the tall grass, weeds, bushes, and the likes of that. My chest looks like a checkerboard with scars.”

    He was proud to have been awarded the Purple Heart. According to the pastor of his church, it signified that he had been “wounded in the service of his country, trying to repel an aggressor and safeguard peace.”

    Because not many veterans of World War I are left now, France decided last year to honor all the Allied soldiers who fought in France. On the 80th anniversary of the 1918 armistice, it was resolved that Fackler would receive the Legion of Honor medal — France’s most distinguished award. But not every citation could be conferred during the anniversary year. These things simply take some time.

    On January 21, 1999, everything was in place for a 2:00 p.m. presentation ceremony in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Fackler’s son was there. Members of American Legion Post 576 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 13 came. Friends from Allentown who loved the 98-year-old man showed up. And the French consul was en route from Washington, D.C. What an afternoon it was going to be!

All of us have people in our lives who deserve our thanks and recognition.
    Then, just a few minutes before noon, Charles Fackler died from the devastation cancer had wrought in his frail body. Too late now to call off the medal ceremony, it was quickly converted into a memorial service.

    All of us have people in our lives who deserve our thanks and recognition. No medal, perhaps. But words spoken directly and sincerely to tell that person what he or she means to you. A thoughtfully drafted letter letting him know the difference he made. A card with a personal note inside to tell her that her effort mattered.

    In your own family, church, and career, I’m sure there are people whose help and encouragement have made a critical difference. You’ve probably told others how important they are to your life. While you still can, be sure to tell them as well.


HEARTLIGHT(R) Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills church of Christ.
Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
Copyright © 1996-97, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759.
© 1999, Rubel Shelley, FAX of Life. Used by permission.