The Munchkin’s Legacy

 

Neal Pollard

Ruth Duccini died in January at the age of 95, the last surviving female munchkin from the Wizard of Oz leaving only Jerry Maren left of the original 124 little people from the film.  All her life she was associated with the classic and made numerous appearances at festivals celebrating the movie. Given her stature, at 4 feet, 4 inches, and the fact that she lived in Santa Monica, she likely had someone remind her of her starry past each day.  But if you asked her what she was most proud of and what she wanted to be remembered for, she would give one answer.  She would say that it was her role as “Rosie the Riveter.” She worked on airplanes at a defense plant during World War II.  She helped her nation through this patriotic work.  Whenever her name is mentioned by the press or her picture is seen in a book or on a website, it will likely be associated with her brief work in that cinematic effort.  But she preferred to be known for her service (http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2014/01/16/wizard-of-oz-munchin-dies/4542745/).

I find that more than patriotic.  It is both admirable and exemplary.  Rather than longing to be “seen” and “out front,” Ruth wanted to be behind the scenes working hard.  Her preference was a few years of difference-making work rather than decades of recognition.

This is a reminder that none of us can choose how we will be remembered.  We know that our decisions and actions collect together like raindrops to form the pool of our legacy.  Looking down, we can see a reflection of who we really are.  But others look at our lives and form their own impressions.  Usually, whatever we desire to be most known for is exactly what we become most known for.  Yet for what do we want to be most known?  Our looks?  Our wit?  Our wealth? Our talents?  Our notoriety?  Or, do we desire to be known for our godliness, service, encouraging, courageous, loving, faithful, persevering, or similar spiritual quality?

Whether or not we log 95 years on this earth, we are leaving daily impressions.  May we leave the kind that help people go to heaven and that keep us on the path that leads there, too.  Make yours a legacy of love for the Lord!

The Three Survivors Of HMS Hood

Neal Pollard

On May 24, 1941, the fifth salvo of the German battleship Bismarck sank the British battlecruiser HMS Hood. The hit split the ship in two and it sank in three minutes!  1,415 members of its crew perished.  But, three survived—William Dundass, Bob Tilburn, and Ted Briggs.  Dundass survived by kicking out a starboard side window and swimming away. The two other survivors praised him for helping keep them awake and alive as they awaited rescue. Tilburn was a gunner, spared by his gun’s splinter shield. But two fellow sailors at the post with him were killed and he witnessed this.  This horrible sight made Tilburn sick and he was leaning over the side of the ship when he saw it sinking.  This allowed him to wind up safely in the water and, after some harrowing entanglements with debris, he paddled over to the other two survivors.  Briggs, a signalman and only 18, was near the bridge when the ship began to roll.  He was sucked under but somehow propelled back up to the surface. He found a small raft—”biscuit float”—and was joined by the other two survivors on their floats. They were in the frigid waters of the Denmark Strait three hours before being rescued by a British destroyer (info via UK Telegraph, H.M.S. Hood Association, and wikipedia).

Death came violently and quickly for the overwhelming majority of the crew.  The three who did not die survived through a combination of skill, determination, and fortunate circumstances.  In the aftermath of surviving the sinking, they leaned on one another to live through it all.  It is profoundly sad that so many men lost their lives in this one action and intriguing that three were saved.

From the beginning of time, the Bible has revealed that the overwhelming majority are going to be lost.  Jesus teaches that few will find eternal life (Mat. 7:13-14).  We see this principle of “few” in Noah’s days (Gen. 6-8), in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19), among the nation of Israel (2 Ki. 17; 2 Chr. 36), and the idea is conveyed by Jesus’ teaching about the end of time.  In our case, we are looking to help others survive.  We should not only be concerned with our own survival, but look for anyone else we can reach!  We may not be able to save many, but our work is to help anyone we can (cf. Mat. 28:19-20)!

LEARNING FROM LENINGRAD

LEARNING FROM LENINGRAD.

LEARNING FROM LENINGRAD

Neal Pollard

Anna Reid has written a gripping book chronicling one of the least talked about devastations of World War II.  From 1941-1944, the Russian city of Leningrad, along with surrounding villages, were besieged by the German army.  Leningrad, being encircled, was cut off by land and water from adequate resupply of food.  This created a famine that cost hundreds of thousands of Leningraders their lives.

One of the survivors of this prolonged plague was Dmitri Likhachov, a Russian scholar who would live to be almost 93 years old.  He chronicled one of the most detailed accounts of the siege, both the heroic and horrible actions of people facing starvation and death.  Reid shares one of his quotes:

I think that real life is hunger, and the rest a mirage. In the time of famine people
revealed themselves, stripped themselves, freed themselves of all trumpery.
Some turned out to be marvellous (sic), incomparable heroes, others–scoundrels,
villains, murderers, cannibals. There were no half-measures. Everything was real.
The heavens were unfurled and in them God was seen… (Leningrad, 194).

It is truly hard to imagine the kind of hunger and privation these Russians endured, even reading it in detail.  But, what Likhachov says about the extremes of starvation seems to apply to people in times of any tragedy or death.  Adversity brings out the best and worst of people, or rather it has a way of “stripping away” the facades people project to reveal what is beneath the surface.

Jesus taught, “And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark 7:20-23).  So, while controlling our actions is always a spiritual necessity, Jesus urges us to achieve an inside-out makeover!  We may or may not ever endure tragic circumstances in our lifetime, but the Bible tells us a day is coming when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ (Rom. 2:16).  Let us take greatest care of that part of ourselves which, though “stripped” and “freed…of all trumpery” will reveals us to be “marvellous, incomparable heroes” of faith!