God Bless America - Again

By: Glenda Lofton, Ph.D.

Nov 10, 2020

Back in 2016, I was invited and proud to become a charter member of The National WWII Museum in New Orleans in honor of my dad, Gordon Crosby Gaar, Jr., who as noted in my June article was a Navy veteran of the war and suffered a critical head injury on Guam. In this month’s newsletter I received from the museum, Stephen Watson, President and C.E.O., reminded us that “as we continue to grapple with the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought upon our nation and world…it has been 75 years since the ‘deadliest and most destructive war in history came to an end.’”  On May 8, 1945—V-E Day—Nazi Germany signed an unconditional surrender, and three months later on August 14, 1945, Japan also accepted unconditional surrender—signed officially on September 2, 1945—V-J Day. Throughout the world “there was global jubilation, but only briefly.  The men and women of the WWll generation quickly turned their energies back to rebuilding their lives—and our world.”  In his letter, President Watson also asked that as we commemorate the 75th anniversary of those victories, we once again unite in support of one another during this worldwide health crisis.  He challenges us to let “the American spirit, which brought our nation together to preserve freedom during World War II, shine brightly and help us overcome new unprecedented challenges through incredible acts of courage, sacrifice, initiative, leadership, service, and generosity.”  

As I read President Watson’s letter, I immediately remembered an article I had read in the April 2020 Decision magazine published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: “WWII Sacrifices Recalled at Island Festivals”.  In February of this year Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son, conducted “Festivals of Hope” in Saipan and Guam where my dad was critically injured. Two members of the Tommy Coomes Band who have played at BGEA events for decades both had family members who had also served on Guam: Clyde Skidmore, 23, and his best friend, Bill Moreau. Both Marines were on the front lines in the invasion of Guam in July 1944. Both were under enemy fire and about an hour in,  Skidmore was hit by an explosion. A piece of shrapnel, similar to what later hit my dad, went into his leg, severed a nerve, and drew his leg up so he couldn’t walk. He had to lie there for a few hours and not move because there were snipers and enemy around. “In those fright-filled uncertain moments, he turned his attention to the only One he knew could save him. ‘God, I don’t know if I’m going to make it off this island alive or dead,’ he prayed, ‘but if You’ll get me off this island and give me a good wife, I’ll serve You the rest of my life…’” Unknown to Skidmore, when his best friend, Bill Moreau, got to a secure area, he told his commanding officer, “I’m going back for Skidmore.”  Despite the warning that he would be killed, he said, “I’m going back,” and under enemy fire he found Skidmore and got him to medical help. When he returned to America, he married the girl who had prayed continually for him while he was in the Marines, and true to his word, pastored churches for more than 50 years and picked up hitchhikers carrying switchblades that he led to the Lord before dropping them off where they wanted to go.  He returned to Guam twice before his death—on his 70th birthday as a gift from his family and church and once when Guam officials invited him back for the 50th anniversary of Guam’s liberation.  

I was so touched, and then I read “the rest of the story.” Skidmore died a victim of Parkinson’s Disease, the same thing that ultimately killed my dad. Consistent with his faith and ministry, Skidmore’s final words on his deathbed were, “Let the lost be found.” The article also added validity to research that I have read in recent years: At one time, Guam had the highest incidence of Parkinson’s Disease in the world which included the time that my dad, a victim of Parkinson’s Disease, was also injured on Guam. Like Clyde Skidmore’s family, “I sorrow not as those who have no hope,” because I know my dad, too, is in heaven.  May God continue to bless our troops and peace-keepers, and as we combat the COVID-19 pandemic, may God bless America—again!


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