No Holding Him Back

I loved visiting Ms. Sara.  She was an independent woman long before the “Age of Aquarius”, bra-burning, and the National Organization of Women.  She still lived on the old farm that she called home when Bobby, her husband, married her.  She had worked as a telephone operator for many years after the war.  Now she enjoyed her vegetable garden, sitting in the barn – talking to her cow and the two calves, smoking her pipe while chasing flies away with a switch, and telling stories of Bobby.

I sat on the old dirt floor of the barn and gently stroked Dusty, her loyal four-footed friend. Her face told me she was remembering better times when Bobby had made this little farm seem like Eden.  As the smoke from her pipe slowly drifted to the rafters – looking to escape, I longed to hear the story again.

“Ms. Sara, why did Bobby volunteer to go to war?”

She smiled and looked at me as if to say, “You know – I’ve told you this story so many times.”  But my pleading eyes silently convinced her to once again share the pain of her life.

“We had been married for only a year when Pearl Harbor was attacked.  It seemed like everyone was so afraid.  Most of the village had gathered at the general store to hear Mr. Roosevelt talk about – how did he put it – a day of infamy.  Bobby was the first to say after they turned off the radio that he was going to join the Army the very next day.”

“See, in those days, we loved America and we knew that this kind of evil should not be allowed to go unchallenged.  I wrote Bobby every day while he was at basic training.  I missed him so much.  But I knew he was where he could make a difference and later, we would live in a much safer world because of boys like him.”

“He was so handsome in his uniform.  He was allowed to come home for ten days before being shipped overseas.  I sat next to him in church – the envy of every girl in town.  I will never forget our last kiss.  I wished it had never ended.  I got a job with the telephone company to make ends meet while he was off doing his duty so he would not have to worry about me.  I just wanted him to focus on coming home.”

“It was just before victory was announced that the car pulled into the yard.  They said that Bobby’s unit was pinned down by a machine gun.  Young boys were dying all around him. Suddenly, Bobby jumped up and ran right at the enemy – gun in one hand and a grenade in the other.  They said he jumped in the fox hole just as the grenade exploded – but his unit was now able to move on to complete their mission.”

“Why did he volunteer to go?  He told me just before he left – he said he did not want me to be afraid ever again – he loved me and this would ensure I was always safe.  How can you argue with that kind of love – there was no holding him back.”


Len Bernat
Len Bernat
LEN is a leader groomed by 20 years of molding and shaping by some of the finest leaders in the United States Marine Corps. Their guidance helped Len realize his full potential as he moved from an enlisted Marine to becoming an Officer of Marines. Len became known for being the leader who could turn any lackluster organization into a strong, functional unit. Upon his retirement, Len worked in several positions before finally starting a second career in governmental procurement. His experience and leadership skills enabled him to be recognized as the 2011 Governmental Procurement Officer of the Year for the Governmental Procurement Association of Georgia and opened doors for him to teach at many of the association’s conferences. Len was also called to the ministry and was ordained at Ashford Memorial Methodist Church in November of 1999. Today, Len is the Pastor of Maxeys Christian Church in Maxeys, Georgia. Len has been married to his wife, Hazel, for 36 years and they have three daughters, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Grab your copy of Len's new Book – Leadership Matters | Advice From A Career USMC Officer. Using his life experiences as examples, Len takes the eleven principles of leadership and the fourteen traits every leader should possess—which he learned during twenty years in the Marine Corps—and teaches the reader how he was molded and shaped by some of the best leaders the Corps had to offer.

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  1. No greater love! I enjoyed it immensely Len and had the feeling the tide would pull the waters back from the beach only leaving a teardrop in dry white sands. You ever wonder about all the tears upon those sands that no one ever saw in places like Normandy and Anzio? The world today doesn’t appreciate the sacrifices those few made for so many!

  2. This story reaches into your soul as you can feel the pain that Ms. Sara felt. You feel the love she had for her husband along with her pride in his sense of love for his country. All of your articles and stories rivet me to them. Thank you for giving us a window to the world to look through. There is in you a true patriot who also happens to be one heck of a writer.

      • Len, it was my pleasure to read your story. Sad to say (at least from my perspective) few people realize (including politicians how high the cost is of maintaining the freedom we enjoy. 09/11 seems like it was in another lifetime to the point when seeing the pictures little feeling is felt. There too many soldiers lost their lives so our freedom would never again be attacked. It has long since been a mystery how you can look at the sight of a flag-draped coffin and not realize what it meant. I have never experienced this tragedy personally but I can well imagine how it feels.