By Doris Schroeder
Yes, I am thankful God led my great grandparents, Abraham and Maria to the United States of America to seek religious freedom. Along with that, the other important opportunities that come along with that connotation.
I have discovered the great sacrifice on their part to leave the Ukraine with their three boys and one on the way, all of this in order to give their family the opportunity to follow God and his leading in their life. I marvel at their unwavering tenacity to get themselves to the hope of freedom when they had weathered so many disappointments with the leaders of their land, first in Holland, than in Germany and last in Russia. When their fourth boy Klaus, was born on te train coming from the Ukraine to Germany, he was with them only a few days until God took him home to heaven. Another boy, a one-year-old boy named Peter, also died during that fateful journey. I am sure that when they saw the American flag on their way into New York, there was joy with their anxiety, that and a yearning that what they had heard about America was true and it was worth all the heart ache they had gone through.
Abraham and Maria, Abraham Jr., and George, were the ones who got on the train in New York and traveled across half of America to the little town of Hutchinson, KS. Later after my Grandfather George had grown up, he and his wife bought 160 acres of wheat land in the Medora township.
When I stood on the wheat field that once belonged to my grandfather, George, and later lived on by my Dad and his family, I could feel the deep feeling that permeated the air. As the fields planted in the Russian Red Turkey Wheat changed from a beautiful emerald green to the rich auburn color of harvest, one’s senses felt the golden joy of independence they must have felt. They had risked all to sell most of their belongings, jeopardized their families lives by bringing them to a new country, and put their confidence on the line, hoping the government would respect their beliefs and allow them religious freedom to follow God’s leading.
After my Dad and Mom married, attended college and taught in the two room country schools, they too, enjoyed being citizens of the United States. It was still a fairly new country in 1933, the year I was born. My first memories began when we lived on West 14th in Hutchinson. My life certainly changed in 1936 when my older sister Luella was accidentally shot by a neighbor boy. The time following my Dad spent a lot of time with me and took me along on little errands to the library, different places, among them to the Main Street to see the patriotic parades of that day.
For some reason, I can vividly recall the spring of 1937, shortly after Luella went to heaven. I was now an only child and my parents and I had driven to 14th and Main to watch a patriotic parade. We saw the American flag flying in the Kansas breeze and I looked up at my dad and saw in his eyes a deep love and trust for the country of America. It made such an impression on me, I saluted the flag as it went by. I knew I would always love God and country because my Dad did.
The American flag has become a picture of what America was meant to be: a comfort to the hurting, a hope for the discouraged and a dream for the future. The fact that we could worship the one true God without reprisal gave us a wonderful hope, not only for this world but for the eternity to come. Knowing this gives us the freedom to let God lead us in this life.
As flag day comes on June 14, we will have a flag flying near the driveway of our home. For several years, we have had the Civitan Club do us as they do many homes in Hutch…put a flag near our home on the special days of our country. This helps us so we don’t forget to be thankful to be living in the United States of America. It is still the country that denotes the freedom we have to worship God, love our neighbor and to stretch ourselves as much as we are led by God to do. Let us thank God for watching out for us and leading us along.
Let us use the flag in thanking God for letting us live in America!
Doris appreciates your comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org