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Wasn't it just yesterday we were complaining about the hot temperatures of summer?

Then, the rains came, the calendar said fall, but the thermometer didn't. And, before we knew it, it was truly autumn with leaves changing colors, walnuts and hickory nuts falling, craft fairs, football games and the annual mule jump. Now it's time for Halloween, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. Christmas is around the corner.

Every year about this time, someone asks when Halloween is celebrated in town. The city doesn't legislate Halloween. It is Oct. 31, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls, but there are several area churches that host events on either the preceding Saturday or Wednesday as well as on Oct. 31 itself.

Veterans Day is Nov. 11 and the parade is the preceding Saturday. This is the fifth annual Veterans Day parade and it has been well received. The schools have hosted Veterans Day events for many years and both the High School and Intermediate School are hosting events Monday, Nov. 11, again this year.

Over the years, there have been fewer of the World War II veterans attending as many passed away. Over the past nearly 40 years, I've been honored to meet and interview many of the World War II veterans who called Pea Ridge home. They were humble men who were reluctant to tell their stories, which were worth telling.

Those men were the teens of the early 1940s growing up on farms in rural northeast Benton County and familiar with guns as a means of providing dinner for the family. As Russell Walker once told me, his elder brother was the best shot of the family and, as ammunition was expensive, he was given one bullet and told to come back with something for dinner. And he did.

Those farm boys were accustomed to hard work. Many learned new skills during the war, such as operating heavy equipment, that would aid them once they returned home. They also experienced trials, pain, injuries and heartbreak. The lessons learned during the war would stay with them a lifetime.

One of those veterans I interviewed always carried a photograph of the emaciated bodies of Jews piled in open graves as a reminder of the war and the cost to so many.

We need to listen to their stories. We need to learn from their experiences.

This Veterans Day, visit your grandparents or great-grandparents, an assisted living facility or a nursing home. Listen. Ask questions. Try to see the person behind the wrinkles and gray hair. Each of them was young once. Each of them was once a child, a teen, a young wife or husband, mother or father. They've trod the path long before you and can share advise to help you avoid pitfalls.

They may not be veterans, but every one of them have a story to tell if you'll listen.

As in a relay race, they have run the first leg of the race of life and hand off the baton to their children, their grandchildren and others who follow. Pick up the baton and run forward armed with the wisdom of those who've run before you.

•••

Editor's note: Annette Beard, managing editor of The Times of Northeast Benton County, chosen the best small weekly newspaper in Arkansas for five years, is a native of Louisiana, who moved to northwest Arkansas in 1980 to work for the Benton County Daily Record. She has nine children, five sons-in-law, nine grandsons and three granddaughters. She can be reached at abeard@nwadg.com

Editorial on 10/30/2019

Print Headline: Life lessons learned from those who've gone before

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