Catherine Ehlers Metcalf said her father, Walter Ehlers, shared many stories with her of his time in World War II, but one that always comes to mind is of his efforts to bring fellow soldiers to the Lord.
“Dad tried and tried to get Pete to go with him to church on Sunday,” Metcalf said, “and Pete said, ‘I’m not going to church, I’m an atheist.'”
She continued saying, “Pete insisted that he was an atheist. They are digging into this hillside in North Africa, and Dad hears Pete over there digging away and saying, ‘Oh God, help me. Oh God, help me,’ and he said when it was all over and everything had calmed down he said, ‘I asked Pete,
didn’t you tell me you were an atheist?’ and Pete said, ‘Yeah, I’m an atheist, why?’ and Dad said, ‘Well, I heard you out there asking God to help you,’ and Pete said, “Well, there wasn’t anybody else to help me.'”
Metcalf said her father’s proudest moment in the military was when he got his whole platoon over the beach without a casualty.
Her father joined the military in 1940 with his brother at just 19 years old.
“Their grandfather had warned them that war was coming and they wanted to be prepared to serve,” said Metcalf.
“His mother charged him when he needed her permission to join the army. She said, ‘I will sign on the condition that you promise me, if you are going to be a solider, you will be a Christian soldier.'”
Metcalf says her father returned home from the military, but his brother didn’t, making the sacrifice our veterans make for our country very real to her and her family.
In a speech on the 50th anniversary of D-Day, she said her father said, “You know, things that are truly worth living for are worth dying for.”
It’s why she not only advocates sharing the stories of true heroes, but also understands the importance of honoring gold star families.
“It’s so important they sacrifice so much,” she said, “It truly is service is a family commitment.”
As a member of the Medal of Honor Foundation, she says preserving legacies like her father’s and sharing it with today’s youth is vital.
“I think it was President Reagan who said every generation is only one generation away from losing those freedoms,” she said, “and so it’s up to each one of us in every generation to support that, and if we’re not going to do that by being in the military ourselves, the very least we can do is honor respect and support those who are.”
On Veterans Day at 11 a.m., ground will be broken for the Monument of Courage honoring Gold Star families, Purple Heart Heroes and the nine regional Medal of Honor recipients. The site is next to the Lubbock Area Veterans Memorial.