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By Clive Perry Ririe
(From NETWORK, the family newsletter,
volume 2, December 11, 1996)

This Christmas might have been the most significant one of the Ririe family life, but we just lived it. Some of us couldn’t have appreciated the uniqueness of our circumstances. Elaine hadn’t yet arrived but would make her appearance in four days, two days after mother turned 45. Jimmie 5, Wayne 11, and Carma 13, were all aware that David was a prisoner of war in Germany and Max was a soldier stationed in the Hawaiian Islands but I doubt they could have realized that both were in some danger. Our neighbors, Alf and Vivian Bush had probably received the dreaded message that Dean had been severely wounded in the infamous Battle of the Bulge. David’s’ situation was immediately serious but Max and another ten or eleven million faced the potential of deadly danger as participants in the invasion of the Japanese mainland; a prospect universally accepted, even thought unavoidable. It may be that none of us had actually faced up to the gravity of the situation. Certainly at age 17 and a college student itching to get in to the military, I didn’t have anything close to a clear view.

While we were shielded by the optimism of youth, surely mother and dad must have realized how bad things were and I am amazed that Dad simply continued farming, participating in state politics and church work. He, like everyone, kept up with the progress of the war through radio and newspaper but didn’t let world conditions deter him from his immediate responsibilities. I think theirs might have been the real heroism. Mother, a few months earlier had performed what now appears to me a minor miracle when she accompanied the visiting general authority, Elder Spencer W. Kimball, as he sang, “Where Is My Wandering Boy Tonight?” Many years later, Aunt Velda reminded me of that performance and wondered how Verna, whose son’s situation was so much a matter of anxiety and doubt, could have been so brave when all she could do was weep.

I don’t specifically remember that Christmas but I suppose we all went to Aunt Velda’s house where dinner was a couple of hours late but was worth the wait. Uncle Hy started by piling his plate full of mashed potatoes, forming a reservoir in the center of the pile, filling it with gravy and then consuming all of it as a prelude to the fowl, etc. that formed the rest of the feast. He could eat more than any one I ever knew but he worked so hard that he never got fat. We all ate and were filled and hardly thought of anything negative. At least that was the way it was for me but Gail had a couple or three boy friends in the war and I seriously doubt that much time passed in mother’s life when she wasn’t thinking and praying for her prisoner son.

When Dave was first reported missing had been the time of our greatest anxiety and in those days mother looked into all the places where she stored important papers and finally found a Patriarchal blessing, the words of which told the end of our greatest family ordeal. True to those prophetic words, David did return rejoicing and has since along with his noble family, been the source of inestimable righteous family pride.

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