We lost another hero last week. One more of the Greatest Generation slipped away into history. One of the thousands of young men who left the safety of homes and communities to fight for the freedom we enjoy today. In 1943 Miles Kennedy joined his fellow soldiers and traveled to countries he’d only heard about. Hands that were used to holding farm tools now held a rifle. A kind heart and ready smile must have endeared him to his buddies. We know little about his life over there for he talked little of it. Heroes are like that. They do what must be done and leave it there.
But one day he told this story to a friend: “We landed on the beach there in Normandy. I was shot before I really got onto land. I was laying there half in and half out of the water, waiting to die. Then, I heard a voice say to me, ‘It’s not your time, Son’, and a little while later a medic picked me up and got me to safety.” A Purple Heart bears testimony to that moment, along with the other medals this hero brought back to Indiana. They were put away in a box along with the memories that should never be part of a young man’s background. The war was over and Miles took life up again farming the land he loved and had defended back there in Europe.
But the man who became a hero in war also became a hero in peace. Miles married and took his place with Rovene in our community. After retirement he became a driver for Judge Hall and I’m sure there were a lot of serious conversations during those trips.
Most of all, I remember him from Church. He counted attendance every Sunday, walking down the outside aisles and coming back up with the numbers in his head and candy in his pocket. Those red and white peppermints were passed out as he shook hands with his friends. When he found out my favorite was Tootsie Rolls, he would reach into the other pocket and bring out a few. Gradually he became known as the ‘Candy Man’. The children all knew who he was whether or not they knew his name.
This quiet man touched many lives and was quick to remember a young man or woman who perhaps came only infrequently to Church. He let them know he knew them and was pleased to see them. That means a lot to those who walk on the edges of faith.
His time had not yet come on that beach a few thousand miles away, but his Father always walked beside him and last week He called him home. We are so grateful He let us enjoy him for another 64 years!