A Life Well Lived


Hal - US Navy

Hal – US Navy

600 times a day.

If this were the number of push ups I did daily or amount of tax free cash I brought home each night, that would be great. Unfortunately, it represents the number of  WWII veterans who die each day in the US.

On June 23, the one I knew best passed away.

His name was Hal and he lived most of his 86 years in his hometown of Hopkinsville, KY. After high school graduation, like many of his friends, he enlisted in the military to fight the Axis powers.  By my count, he would have been 18 or so, and on a ship in the Pacific when Japan surrendered. Said another way, by 18 years old he had finished high school and won a world war. Not to shabby.

He was married to Judy for over 50 years, and when you visited, you felt you were in a home, not just a house. Hal had two children and seven grandchildren, spanning 2 continents.  He worked in banking and insurance, enjoyed golf, cheered for Kentucky on Saturdays, and was active in his church on Sundays. Hal made it a point to meet with his friends for breakfast, talk about the old days and was sure of his salvation in Christ.

To me, Hal stood in the void. His life may have seemed ordinary to some, but I’d say it was extraordinary. Why? Because he was living life the right way and that stands in contrast to what we see today. So what do you take away from a life well-lived? Here are three:

Read – Hal read a lot, or at least he read a lot about WWII. I think he read because it was important to him to never forget…to never forget the effort it took, the friends he made and the lives lost. He read a lot about it because he was part of it and knew that many paid the ultimate price.  So, what do you read?

Laugh – It is OK to laugh, especially at yourself. Hal was known to many as “Ox”. I think it had more to do with a lack of dexterity than strength, but if that name bothered him, he never let on. I don’t think he cared in a “sticks and stones” kind of way because he was at peace with who he was. He put his faith in a higher place. It doesn’t matter what others think – what matters is what you think. Maybe Hal was clumsy, but we all can’t float like a butterfly. He recognized that and chose to laugh. What do you laugh at?

Stay True – The old expression “dance with who brung you” comes to mind for Hal.  It meant staying true. His bedrock was God and that served him well in 50 plus years of marriage.  He was a loyal man who never wavered in his support for  family, friends, teams, community or country. That type of commitment is seldom seen anymore. Hal, and many others like him from the greatest generation really valued commitment and staying true to your word. What are you true to?

In his final years, his eyesight failed and Alzheimer’s robbed him of his memories. But those are things that happen, because our bodies just wear out. What doesn’t wear out is living life well. More than financial security or land, one of the measures of a man’s life is what they say about you when you die. If that is true, then Hal was a rich man.

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