When my husband and I married in 2007, the wounds of the 9/11 terrorist attacks were still fresh on the minds and hearts of the American people. He hadn’t been home long from a deployment to Iraq when we visited Pigeon Forge, TN for our honeymoon. One of my favorite memories from our time there was the grand finale of one of the dinner shows we attended.
Just when we thought the show had ended, every cast member respectfully flooded the stage as an enormous American flag filled the backdrop behind them. The minute the patriotic music began to play, the entire audience immediately rose to its feet. Adults placed their hands over their hearts, veterans stood at attention and saluted, and many silently wiped tears. Children watched these role models in amazement and mimicked what they saw. The very thought of the patriotism that filled that building that warm summer night still gives me chills twelve years later. I vividly remember proudly standing by my handsome soldier thinking, “I wish my granddaddy could be here to see this!”
Actually, my “granddaddy” was my best friend’s grandfather, though no one would have ever known the difference. His name was Dennis Meek and he truly lived out the Bible in a way so that I clearly understood the love of Jesus. I was not Granddaddy’s flesh and blood. I didn’t bear his last name or have any sort of family resemblance, but he loved me and cared for me as if I were his own. He took the time to teach me, provide for me, and model the qualities to look for in a husband. He invested the same amount of time in me as he did his own granddaughter. He “adopted” me into his family and showed me grace, yet he did not have to. As a young girl, when I looked at him, I was amazed by how much he resembled Jesus.
He was a retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 in the Army National Guard and he loved his country supremely. Every adventure with him was a learning experience. He realized our lack of education in American history, so he took it upon himself to teach us. I can never remember a time we stood beside him for the National Anthem or Pledge of Allegiance that he didn’t cry. That American flag meant something to him and its significance never subsided. He made sure we understood that in order for us to be free and enjoy the blessings of our country, someone else had to pay the ultimate price. Fully aware of the imperfections of the country he spent most of his life serving, he still loved this great nation just as much as the day he joined the military and he earnestly wanted others to share in his appreciation.
There in the Pigeon Forge theater, I could just imagine him standing beside me tall and strong, with a quivering chin and giant tears streaming down his face as the show ended and the emotional crowd continued to stand and applaud.
Last year, my husband and I took our three boys back to that very same dinner show. I couldn’t wait for them to have the same experience we did all those years ago. There is something special about standing united with our fellow countrymen. But that was hardly the case…
At the very end of the show, the bright white lights illuminated Old Glory in the dark theater as the cast came out to conclude the show. With no hesitation, my husband and I rose to our feet at the sound of the patriotic old hymn. Our children watched us and quickly stood. Then as we looked around, we realized there was only a handful of other people standing to show respect for our land of the free and home of the brave. Some people even began to leave! I couldn’t believe it. With tears in my eyes, all I could think of was, “I’m so glad my granddaddy is not here to see this.” His heart would have been broken.
My precious Granddaddy Meek went to be with the Lord shortly after we married, but his lessons will forever be living within my home and the hearts of my children. As this “greatest generation” slips away every day, so do our most profound teachers who learned through experience how important it is to fight for our country and the principles it was founded upon. The farther removed we are from these lessons, the more ignorant we become as a society. Every day we are bombarded with fake news and fading morals. We, as parents and grandparents, have got to get our heads out of the sand and start teaching our children the truth, so they will be equipped to take a stand when their time comes to lead.
We cannot depend solely on the church to teach our children the Bible, nor can we sit back and assume the schools will teach our children the truth of our American heritage. The best educators in the world are parents and grandparents, and if we aren’t taking the time to teach our children, we can be assured someone else will.
In this first book of the Covenant Creek series, these siblings from the city are devastated to learn they will be stuck in the country with their great-grandparents for the entire summer with no other children, no WiFi, and only three local channels. Jealous of their friends who will be vacationing to the beach or attending summer camps, these kids anticipate a long, boring summer. However, they quickly find that the simple country life is not so bad. Things get especially interesting when they find a mysterious chest hidden in their grumpy great-grandfather’s closet. Instead of being angry with them when he catches them snooping, Granddaddy Meek surprises them by teaching them a lesson they will never forget!
The main character, Granddaddy Meek, is a beautiful blend of three of my heroes. My own grandfather, Delayon Jenkins, who was a World War II veteran; my adopted Granddaddy Meek who patiently took the time to teach; and Dr. Buford Usry, who is an Iwo Jima survivor that I had the privilege of interviewing. (Editor's note: Click HERE to read Whitney's blog about this)
My prayer is that families will take the time to read this book and learn together. The America we know and love today would be entirely different had it not been founded on godly principles by men of great character. We are living in the residual blessings of leaders who fought to become one nation under God, and we must continue that fight. Let’s take time to learn and patiently teach like Granddaddy Meek!
Oh, how I wish my granddaddy could be here to see this!
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