PEACE....the absence of war, struggle, turmoil, pain. Peace can be as huge and magnificent as a country, and nation or even the world. And Peace can be as personal as an individual, a single soul. As I look at a topic as huge as mankind or as personal as one single life, I wonder, can I adequately put together a blog post addressing both? I'm going to try.
Looking at relationships, family, examples in my own life, is how I gather my thoughts for this blog. "Peace" is so much bigger than any one of us, especially me.....and then I look at those around me, those who's lives have touched mine and I realize I have incredible examples surrounding me of warriors for peace. I'll begin with...
The above photograph of a relaxed, calm soldier is one of two photos that I have of my Grandpa, my Dad's Dad from the "Great War". I know very little about him, besides the fact that he served in the First World War. He died when my Dad was only about a year old, his death left my own Dad an orphan. Because of this picture there is one thing I know about Warren Schlessman. He served his country in the quest for "peace" as a member of the United States Army, and that he smoked cigars!
|Roy Houck Schlessman U.S. Army|
The photo above is my Dad. This picture was developed March 28, 1945 almost 2 years (to the day) before he married my Mom (pictured below). My parents graduated from high school in Pennsylvania, while the world was at war for the second time. As a young man (who had never traveled far from home), Roy H. Schlessman left his home, family and girlfriend and followed the call to join the army and head to Europe, specifically, Germany. He was among thousands of young American men who willingly stepped up to help bring forth the cause of freedom and PEACE.
|Doris Mae Weaver wearing "her soldier's" jacket and hat|
|May 8, 1945|
This is one of my all time favorite photos of my Mom. I love that she had the idea to have a friend snap this picture of her and I love all that this photograph represents. VICTORY, FREEDOM and ultimately PEACE to a world, to a country, to a couple of young adults who could now move forward with their lives. My Mom and Dad belong to "The Greatest Generation" as they grew up and served in World War II. They willingly paid a price for peace, and then came home to marry and raise a generation of kids (like me). They raised us in a world of hopes and goals and endless possibilities that peacetime affords.
That was MY LIFE....
However, my husbands life was different. Gary's father, Lt. Col. Russell Lee Rogers was a career Air Force man. Volumes could be written about him and of the influence his life has had on his family and on all of his posterity. To very briefly describe his career, my father-in-law served right out of high school in WWII, then the Korean War. He served and trained at Edward's Air Force base as a test pilot and he was a squadron commander during the Vietnam War while stationed at Okinawa. Russell Rogers is considered a hero among all those who loved him, and honor him now. I doubt you can speak of war, and military, and PEACE without realizing the incredible price that is associated with this word that we can tend to take so lightly. Russell Lee Rogers paid the ultimate price on September 13, 1967 while flying over the south China Sea.
|Lt. Colonel Russell Lee Rogers|
|September 31, 1970 Mary Ann receives post humorous Legion of Merit medal|
Honor and love and the dedication to PEACE can I even begin to express the depth of the price that many, many have paid? A beautiful family returns home, to a country living in peace, and also to a country where many are strongly opposed to the war. Hearts broken, hearts full of pride, coming home from a war zone, to a land of "peace". A land very unsettled and in turmoil over the cause they have just given "all" to. Where is peace?
I admire and respect beyond words the lives of my parents and of my husbands parents who lived to provide a better world for us. I wanted to honor them and the times they lived through in this blog.
Now, I want to change directions. I could never tackle the subject of "War and Peace" adequately, I simply want to say that I am so, so thankful for those who have served our country. Who answered the call, popular or not, because they believed in serving for the cause of freedom.
I can not write of military service in my family without giving a "shout out" to our nephew Russell. Russell Cowley is the first son or Grandson of Russell Rogers that pursued service in the United States Military. As a part of a generation of young people who have grown up with peace, Russell chose a path that would require serving as an officer in the Army. Attending his graduation from West Point was a great experience for Gary, Emily and me. It was powerful and moving to see the young men and women who are willing to pursue this type of education. An education with a commitment to your country of years of military service.
|Russell Cowley West Point Graduation 2009|
The "world" will never be at peace. That is a harsh reality and way too deep of a subject to even begin to address in my simple blog. HOWEVER, I went to college pursuing a degree in special education, therefore I have been trained in "task analysis" the skill in breaking things down. I became pretty efficient at learning how to break a educational concept down to teach in small segments. I can EASILY think of "peace" this way. With a world raging around us in turmoil I can break the search for peace down, down, down from the world, to nations, to families to the individual.
|Come Follow Me|
In John 14: 27 we read: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
There is a way to inner peace. I believe we can find peace.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints sends missionaries out into the world to teach others about the "Prince of Peace". These young men and women leave their homes, family, friends and educational pursuits behind to serve for two years (on their own dime). The Mormon faith does not teach of an ancient religion but of a Savior who is resurrected, his Gospel restored and that Jesus Christ loves us and can touch our lives today.....with peace.
I love the following picture of Gary, it takes us back to a long time ago, (that is if thirty some years is a long time!) A nineteen year old young man serving in Hamburg Germany, with much of his time being spent in West Berlin, which was located within the borders of Eastern Germany, under communist rule. Elder Rogers was there to share the message of Jesus Christ. That he lives and that he offers peace to weary souls. Look at his eyes! I was in love with them then and even more so now. Eyes determined, sincere, and full of conviction of what he has been called to do!
|Elder Gary Lee Rogers Hamburg Germany 1976|
When Gary was called to serve in Germany the missionary force of the church was approximately 25,000 strong. Today there are over 80,000 missionaries currently serving. This army of young missionaries does not promote peace with weapons and force, but with a message of Christ and a heart full of love.
The next four pictures are photographs of my children and my daughter's husbands who served missions for the church. I love these ambassadors of PEACE.
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS..... they went forth willing to give their all. They had enough knowledge to get them out there, not much life experience, yet lots of enthusiasm and VERY willing hearts to serve the Lord.
|Jonathan Lee Rogers Mexico City 2000 - 2002|
|Megan Rogers (Webster) Baltimore Maryland 2003 - 2005|
|Steven Jeffrey Webster Baltimore, Maryland 2003 - 2005|
|Colton Thomas Jacobson Rostov, Russia 2010-2012|
I find it interesting now that I have posted these pictures of my "kids" from their missions of the photos that I chose of each of them. There are elements in each of these pictures that symbolize freedom, peace, war, power in various different ways. Missionaries and peace seem to be extremely intertwined. I find it incredible and inspiring to think that within our own little family that the Gospel message has been taken to far reaching corners of the world. When I look at the fresh clean smiles on the faces of these young missionaries (whom I love dearly) I am reminded of the joy that comes from helping others and reaching out to others to teach "the plan of happiness".
The next two photos show moments when the "troops" (or districts) of Mormon missionaries were gathered together. Just look at their smiles! True happiness can be found in sharing a message of the love of a Savior, it shows on their faces. When you serve others and teach of the unconditional love of Jesus Christ you radiate happiness and joy. Ultimately goodness and pure love lead to peace.
|Missionaries in Mexico City with Jonathan|
|Megan with Missionaries in Washington DC|
The picture (above) of missionaries taken during the Christmas season, includes a building, which to us Mormons represents a "place of Peace". Just as in ancient days, temples have been built and dedicated to perform holy ordinances of God. In the temple you can find refuge from the turmoil in the world, solace from cares and concerns. It is a place to learn of Christ's mission and the effect his life and sacrifice can have on our lives. It is a place to learn of where we came from and what the purpose of life is. This kind of knowledge brings PEACE. The temple is a place to make covenants with our Father in Heaven. The temple can be an amazing, calming, place of peace to those who worship therein.
|"Elder Rogers" at the temple in Mexico City|
|"Elder Webster" at the Washington DC Temple|
|"Elder Jacobson" at the Kyiv, Ukraine Temple|
So far I have written of those who were willing to "fight for peace", and those willing to "teach of peace", and now, I'll mention Jonathan who has been hired and trained to "work for peace". Jonathan recently graduated from the Arizona Law Enforcement Academy to start a new career as a "Peace Officer" for the city of Gilbert.
|Officer Rogers with his Grandpa, Roy H. Schlessman (previously pictured in this blog post)|
|Gary with our son "Officer Rogers"|
I was very moved as I listened to the oath that Jonathan took as he graduated from the academy. Something along the lines to: support the Constitution of the United States of America, and the laws of Arizona. To defend them against all enemies foreign and domestic.........as a PEACE officer." These words are powerful. Watching and listening to Jonathan as he went through the academy reminds me how much effort it takes to maintain peace.
I can not help but to feel a little rattled when I think of my son wearing a bullet proof vest to work each day. The fact remains that we live in a dangerous world. I look at these photos above as Jonathan is placing his vest on Tyler, I see my own Grandson experience the weight of wearing a very heavy vest. Literal and figuratively I believe we must pass our value, love, and respect for peace on to each generation.
|It appears that it takes quite a bit of equipment to "defend the Constitution and Laws"|
I'm going to close this entry with the following photograph of me and Gary from this past summer. We were on vacation, riding bikes along the harbor in downtown San Diego when suddenly BAM.... we rode upon this HUGE statue. Can you tell how enormous it is by this photo?
|The statue...."Unconditional Surrender" by J. Seward Johnson|