Veterans and Marriage: Going the Distance

Veterans and Marriage: Going the Distance

2014 | Week of November 10, 2014 – #1071

A friend recently sent me the following story. It’s rich and touching on several levels. I can’t believe I missed it when it ran last year in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Lucy Cohn was a psychiatric Army nurse in a Kentucky hospital during World War II, helping soldiers upon returning home. While there, she met Lt. Col. Norman Cohn, who served in the Army in the Europe.  Norm persisted in trying to date Lucy, in spite of her protests that she was too busy. She eventually agreed to a 10-minute walk which ended up lasting 6 hours and making Lucy very aware she had met someone special.

Lucy and Norm married and settled in Milwaukee.  They spent 53 years together, celebrating each one as special and blessed. They actually recycled birthday and anniversary cards that they had exchanged through the years, adding notes in recognition of each passing year.  In late 1999, Norm was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In the closing months of his life, he signed up to teach a class of kids and Lucy helped him at each juncture as his strength waned.

Norm passed away in March of 2000 and was buried at Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C.  In 2011, Lucy was invited to go on one of the Stars and Stripes Honor Flights. She visited the war memorials and monuments and commented that they brought back so many memories of patients she had treated, lives she had touched while in service to her country.

While at Arlington National Cemetery for the Changing of the Guard ceremony, Lucy asked if she could go visit her husband’s grave. Her wish was granted, making for a very bittersweet moment as Lucy, now in a wheelchair, and her companion, found Area 54, plot 4952.  From Lucy’s perspective, the Honor Flight had been yet another opportunity for her to be with her late husband.

Last year in February, Lucy, at age 90, also passed away. Amazingly, some 13 years earlier, her husband, knowing he was dying had written her obituary, because he wanted to be sure people knew about his Lucy.  Upon her death, her husband’s words were printed for all to know what he knew about the love of his life.  Lucy was interred next to her husband in Arlington National Cemetery.

To me this story is so very appropriate for the week in which we recognize Veterans’ Day. It tells a story that really could be repeated hundreds of thousands of times about the generation that fought in World War II. By and large that was a generation that took seriously the duty and obligation of serving their country while longing to come back home. Many never made it back. For those who did, sometimes it was a rough adjustment; for others like Norm, they married and lived full and happy lives—enjoying freedom, prosperity and a way of life they had fought to protect and preserve.

What I also especially like in this story is the testimony of the love and the commitment Norm and Lucy had for each other, their marriage and their two sons. From what we can tell, their marriage epitomizes what God intended marriage to be—for Christians and non-Christians—a monogamous, life-long relationship that is procreative in nature.

Norm and Lucy took “in sickness and in health” and “until death do us part” seriously.  While I’m sure their marriage was not perfect, their relationship evidences a level of commitment and devotion, of duty and obligation, that enabled them as husband and wife to endure the tough times and to savor the good times and to grow together in their love.

Like so many of their generation who had lived through and even fought in World War II, they worked through problems rather than declaring their personal unhappiness and walking away. If they were veterans, I’m pretty sure they figured if they could survive the Eastern or Western fronts and God had allowed them to come home, they could survive the ups and downs and challenges of marriage.

This week it is altogether fitting that we honor with our words and our actions our veterans of all wars and thank them for their service and sacrifice. It’s also fitting, I think, that we honor marriages like Norm and Lucy’s, marriages that go the distance. So take time this week to thank a veteran and also take time to thank a couple in your life whose marriage is an example and an encouragement to you—one of those lifelong love stories that tell you it really can happen.

This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

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