Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Wednesday's Post

June 19, 2013

‘Where never lark or ever eagle flew’

June 19, 2013 —     The poem “High Flight” was written by a young American pilot, John Magee, flying for the Royal Canadian Air Force before the U.S. entered World War II.

    He wrote the poem a few days prior to his death in December 1941.

    The last verse goes like this:

    “Up, up the long, delirious burning blue

    I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace

    Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —

    And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod

    The high un-trespassed sanctity of space,

    Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”

    We fast forward 72 years to the present and try to imagine yourself as a former pilot riding in the cockpit of a restored B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber.

    That grand old plane has been on display for a week at your hometown airport and is being ferried to another location.

    You’ve been there each day from 9 a.m. till 6 p.m. to answer questions from visitors who are curious about the old war bird.  

    You dreamed of taking a ride but didn’t want to deprive someone else who never had the experience.

    You sit there in the shade of a massive wing and recall vivid memories of being an aircraft commander at age 21, responsible for the lives of nine other young men.

    You talk of giving up flying after the war ended but never losing your love of airplanes, especially the B-17.

    You tell anyone who will listen about being a B-17 pilot arriving in England just as that war ended in the spring of 1945.

    And again you whisper a secret prayer of thanksgiving that you never had to kill anyone in combat.

    Now you are riding in the cockpit of this great plane in the year 2011. You’re at 9,000 feet and the weather is perfect.

    Suddenly, without warning, the co-pilot calls you by name and invites you to take his seat.

    A few moments later, the command pilot turns to you, smiles and says, “It’s all yours.”

    Now you understand why the crew never offered you a free flight during the week, even when the old plane left the ground with empty seats.

    It had only been 66 years since you last handled those controls but today it was worth the wait.

    Incredibly, at age 87, this proud old soldier piloted a B-17 for 30 exhilarating, unforgettable minutes over the Rocky Mountains.

    And – in the twilight of his long life – he got another chance to put out his hand…and touch the face of God.

1
Text Only
Wednesday's Post
  • Right way, wrong way and the Army way

    We were tired, sleepy and perhaps a bit scared about 1 a.m. when that chartered Greyhound bus rolled into the U. S. Army Reception Station at Fort Knox, Ky.

    April 23, 2014

  • What happened to the art of roasting?

    I was channel surfing recently when I happened upon one of those late night programs selling videos of old television shows.

    April 16, 2014

  • Some political stories are worth retelling

    With Kentucky in the midst of the political season, it’s time to share some stories I’ve heard about the art of politicking.

    April 9, 2014

  • What happened to the safety of childhood?

    In the years before air conditioning, we slept soundly and safely with the screen door often unlatched. Our family home never had a working lock on an outside door until our parents died and it became a rental property.

    April 2, 2014

  • Memory of an old foe brings reflections

    We hadn’t seen each other for about 50 years but his face came instantly to mind when I saw his obituary. He was three years older and newly out of the military when we met as college freshmen.

    March 26, 2014

  • Parents have always scared kids straight

    The tactic of “scared straight” has been used for several years to shock misbehaving teenagers by exposing them to short stints in a jail or prison cell. But that concept actually started when a mother first told a scary tale to keep her kids from doing something dangerous.

    March 19, 2014

  • She was ‘a ghost with a beating heart’…

    Be warned that this is a tragic tale of someone who couldn’t believe that others loved her for the person she was.

    March 12, 2014

  • The one-eyed monster that changed our lives

    I’m not exactly sure of the date but was at least 25 years ago when that “thing” came out of a storage closet and changed my life forever. It was a personal computer.

    March 5, 2014

  • More stuff I wish I’d said or written…

    The old sports writer wasn’t happy when the editor asked him to cover a high school band concert after another reporter became ill.

    February 26, 2014

  • Out of the mouths of babes come good words

    As the grandfather of 16 I’m constantly amused or impressed by the things our grandkids say and do. Here’s another sampling.

    February 19, 2014

Poll