We’ll Always Have Banana Splits

Another Veteran’s Day has come and gone here in America. Across the mountains and flatlands of our great country, communities, organizations, and families gathered together once again to honor those whose sacrifice is forever etched across the memorials of time. We paused to remember; to find comfort, strength, example, and hope for the challenges of our tomorrows. Some turned and embraced their heroes, thankful for another day together, while others knelt beside a grave marker and wept bitterly for untimely loss and experiences unlived.

If we were to thoroughly research the lives of each veteran,  poring over battlefield notes and historical documents, examining journals and diaries, reading letters to wives and children, and conducting personal interviews, I have no doubt we would discover unique perspectives on the variable costs of freedom. While numerous accounts of personal, wartime sacrifice and heroics have already found their way to published books and Hollywood movies, there are thousands of stories left untold – stories of abandonment, relinquishment, surrender, rejection, and self-denial, mixed with achievement, conquest, adventure, and triumph. I am convinced however, that in spite of the emergence of extraordinary and rare themes from each of these experiences, we would find a singular commonality – choice!

The price of freedom requires us to make responsible, calculated decisions and whether a veteran was drafted or voluntarily enlisted, choice was the cause of the final effect. As men and women chose to take up the call for the defense of freedom, they in turn have secured our enduring freedom to choose.

One such example involves two of my uncles. As the story goes, Robert (Bob) and David (Curly) Rhoades were fairly fresh out of high school when they chose to answer their country’s call for service during the Korean War. Together, they made their way from our hometown of Nanty-Glo, Pennsylvania to the United States Army recruiter to voluntarily enlist for duty. Upon completion of the process, they were both rejected for enrollment because of one simple matter: they each weighed less than 100 pounds! Now, that might have stone-walled a few individuals from service, but being the Rhoades men that they were and not willing to accept no for an answer, they found a simple solution to the problem – they spent the next few days consuming large amounts of banana splits! Days later, they returned to the recruiter for another opportunity to enlist and successfully made the cut. Ironically, they not only became tank operators, but company cooks!

My uncles’ story and choices may seem inconsequential in the grand scheme of the world, but I can’t help sitting back and thinking about the impact of their choices on the lives of our family, neighbors, country, and the lives of South Koreans today. Thanks to their choice of defending freedom, and the extra steps they took to enlist in the service of our country, we continue to have the freedom to choose.

It’s a cold, snowy, late-autumn day here in southwest Ohio, but I think I’ll take a trip down to the local dairy mart. I know they have a wide selection on the menu and thanks to my uncles’ choice of banana splits, I have the freedom to choose from a plethora of other frosty delights.  I’ve already made my choice though….banana split. Think I’ll take it with the traditional chocolate, strawberry, and pineapple toppings…oh, and extra whip cream please. This scoop’s for you Uncle Bob and Uncle Curly – thank you for your service!

©Copyright 2013 Scott Rhoades/Ivory Hill Studios

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