To Love and Serve

Jean - Winchester, Virginia
Entered on September 11, 2008

I believe we are all ONE on this planet, here to love and serve.

Because of my father’s career as an Air Force officer and pilot, my family of six moved seven times by the time I was ten years old. While he was in Korea my mother would write and remind him of my name.

Three and a half of those years were at Tachikawa Air Force Base in Japan. I remember family dinners with Colonel Watanabe as they reminisced about where they were during World War II and how happy we were all together now peacefully enjoying each other’s company and families. Our languages are distinct but our values as human beings, raising families, are the same.

It was in Japan where my younger sister was diagnosed with severe hearing loss due to rubella also known as German measles. She spent many frustrating and grueling years trying to make herself understood speaking English and lipreading while we also spent years learning to communicate and make ourselves understood through sign language. Our languages are distinct but our purpose, to communicate and be understood, are the same.

Sunday afternoon, May 5, 1968, near Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, we received the dreaded knock at our front door by two uniformed Air Force military. Our father had died, his plane struck, returning from leading a mission over Laos in theA-1E Skyraider he flew during the Viet Nam war. Grief and sadness are universal and we felt these painful emotions while trying to keep a stalwark appearance in the face of a nation very divided in its support.

Majoring in French and studying my junior year abroad, I graduated and taught English in Bogotá, Colombia where my older brother, a Peace Corps volunteer, resided. My brother fell in love and our entire family went to Colombia to attend the wedding. Even though the languages are distinct, the

love and joy that are felt at such celebrations are universal. Everyone, no matter the culture, can celebrate, express and feel joy and happiness together.

Mom continued to work and raise my siblings. My younger brother’s friend from from Viet Nam was welcomed into our home and relatives from Colombia lived with them in Ohio for periods of time. Forgiveness and sharing are the emotional tools, the weapons of peace, that help manage grief and sorrow, in any language or culture. My mother does that well.

Studying Tourism Development in Bridgetown, Barbados, escorting travel groups around the world, criss-crossing the U.S. and Canada with friends, traveling with my own family, I’m so grateful for the places I’ve lived and visited on this planet.

I am blessed now with the same feelings of joy and excitement, sending others out to study abroad, travel, see the world. I know, as time and opportutnities are taken to travel and experience other countries and cultures, we will believe together that we are indeed all ONE on this planet, here to love and serve.