The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.


By Elaine Slater Reese

My friend, Faye, has volunteered for years at the large VA Hospital. As a former member of the U.S. Air Force, she has such a place in her heart for our veterans.

Often she asks our church to pray for specific vets with special needs - often life-threatening.

But last Christmas, she asked us to pray for Jim. 

A special gift from an organization had provided money for the veterans to buy small gifts for their loved ones. 

As a volunteer, Fay was given ten names. She was to take each one of these people individually to the hospital gift shop and help the person choose and wrap small gifts.

Jim kept saying "Oh, take the others first."

When finally, he was the last of the ten left, Faye asked him to accompany her to the gift shop. 

Jim put his frail hands on the arms of his worn wheelchair. 

He said nothing, and tears welled in his eyes. "Jim, what is it?", Faye gently asked.

He did not answer.  She asked the question again. As his voice cracked, he slowly and painfully spoke. 

"I have no family to buy gifts for. There is no one."

Faye just took his hand and sat quietly with him for a while. 

Then she said, "Please tell me about your being one of America's servicemen. What did you do?"

Jim looked her in the eye and thought for a long time. 

With such humility as she had never seen before, He replied, "Oh, I didn't do much. I was just a soldier. I just carried a gun around and shot a few people."

There was nothing satirical or abrasive about his answer. It was just how humble Jim saw it.

And through the years, over and over someone's son has been the Jim in America. 

And now it's my son who is one of those carrying the gun. And I say to every American veteran (living or deceased) 


Elaine Slater Reese is a freelance writer in Spring Green, WI who grew up in Hancock County - near Bowen, Illinois