The year was 1941. The scars of the “Great War” had not yet been recognized as seeds of the next war. It was a time of much uncertainty and questions. How would a way be found out of the Great Depression that followed? Would the munitions makers have answers? Would the sour taste of the last war be sweetened by jobs?
The draft to conscript soldiers was initiated so we could be ready if the “scourge” spread to our shores. The fever that would finally bring the war strugglers aboard was finding ways to legitimize a new war, never mind the consequences. So Victory Gardens, rationing of gas, food, etc. were in full swing. December 7, 1941 became the Great Decider. It was during these times of war clouds rumbling through personal plans that Bob and I knew from the first glance that we would spend the rest of our lives together. It was a tough time for making permanent plans. There was so much uncertainty.
It was at this time that my Dad, the pastor of our church, was in a horrible accident requiring a lengthy hospital stay. As the oldest of 10 children, I was asked to go to work to supplement the meager salary that was benevolently bolstered by gifts of chickens and eggs from congregation families.
Herein lies the point of this story: businesses in South Bend, where I went to work in the First Bank and Trust, were pressured to require 100% of their employees to buy War Bonds. A white flag embossed with a gold E for excellence would fly atop each business building whose employees would comply.
Here is where my home, church and school training came together! My home and Sunday School teaching of “Dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone. Dare to have a purpose true, dare to make it known”.
A War Bond cost a little less than $19 of my meager $40 per week salary (an expensive consideration in those days). Would I dare to go against the prevailing pressure, or would the fear of losing my much needed job cause me to comply? Fortunately, my Church of the Brethren denomination had prepared Peace Bonds. Would one of these be allowed to take the place of a War Bond? This may not have been as tough a call to make upon looking back, but in the mind of a naive 19 year old, it seemed so. Was I also putting my boss, the Bank President, in the hazardous position of taking a stand before his Board of Directors for accepting a substitute for a War Bond, an action that could be considered unpatriotic to the cause.
My fears were soon put to rest by the gracious understanding of J. D. Barnett, the President of the bank, when I explained my stand. And little did I realize at the time what a Life Lesson I was learning. A lesson that would give me the courage for later encounters with putting into practice “the things that make for peace.”
by Lois Clark