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This Easter, mormon.org has created a beautiful initiative on Jesus Christ called #PrinceofPeace.
In Isaiah 9:6 we read, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
The Prince of Peace. But how can we find peace today? Through faith, compassion, forgiveness, repentance, gratitude, scripture or God’s word, prayer, and hope. Through focusing on Christ. I believe that by learning more about how to bring these 8 core principles of peace into everyday life, we can draw nearer to our Savior and find peace even in our darkest hour.
In the weeks and days leading up to Easter, many bloggers will be sharing how one of these principals brought them closer to Christ. I wanted to lend my voice and share a story that is precious to me.
It’s a story of hope.
World War II found two brothers fighting for their lives. The athletic, outgoing elder brother, Jack, was stationed throughout North Africa and Europe with the Army. The adoring younger brother, Bob, in Japan with the Navy. Jack received the Silver Star for Gallantry in Action. And Bob, looking up to Jack with all his heart, did his best to make his brother proud. After the war, the brothers returned home.
Families were started, life was good, and the brothers were happy.
Then in 1950, Jack was sent to serve in the Korean War, leaving behind a young son and a pregnant wife.
During the last days of November 1950, Jack’s infantry regiment was attacked in the Battle of the Ch’ongch’on River. The massive surprise attack enabled the Chinese Army to infiltrate battalion lines forcing it to withdraw. The division lost 5,000 men between November 25 and December 1st. During this heated battle Jack was taken captive, a prisoner of war.
We know very little about what went on in the months that followed his capture.
Two short letters were sent home to his family, repeatedly reminding his sweetheart to keep her chin up. His “Sweets”, as he called her, was never able to get word to him of the birth and then death of their newborn son.
Sometime in the months that followed his capture, Jack was tortured, became ill, and died. His body was believed to have been dumped somewhere in North Korea. His remains never made it home. Though countless hearts were broken the day the telegram came, I want to focus on one heart, Jack’s adoring younger brother. Jack knew him as Bob, but I called him Grandpa.
To say that Grandpa was devastated by the loss of his brother would be a gross understatement. Between the PTSD from the war and the death of his hero, Grandpa was on the brink of self-destruction. I can’t begin to fathom the darkness and hurt he carried. He turned to anything that would numb his insides but nothing helped. At his lowest point, he found himself driven to his knees in a field. Sobbing and with nowhere left to turn, he plead with God to save him. A few days later, two inspired home teachers showed up at his door. The Lord had heard his prayer and sent earthly angels to help. He had not been forgotten. The Lord wrapped his arms around his broken son and began to lead him to a better way.
The road and years that followed were rough and Grandpa faced many stumbling blocks. But through leaning on Christ, he found hope. Dieter F. Uchtdorf once said that “Hope… is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances. It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn. It encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Heavenly Father.” He also said, “Hope in God, His goodness, and His power refreshes us with courage during difficult challenges.”
Grandpa slowly learned that hope can truly overcome despair. Through exercising hope, my grandpa gained faith. Through faith he gained an understanding of the atonement of Jesus Christ and eventually found peace. Grandpa wasn’t perfect. He and I had battles that would rival his war days (joking… sorta), but I know in my heart he did the best with what he knew. Though our relationship was rocky, Grandpa taught me a deep love for my country. His stories of Jack and the war mesmerized me. Listening to his dramatic reenactments, complete with crazy facial expression and fake languages, are some of my most precious memories of him.
More than anything, I learned from Grandpa’s example to never surrender and never lose hope.
He taught me that hope is the only thing stronger than fear. Like in Hebrews 6:19, Hope is an anchor of the soul. Though nightmares, the past, and PTSD continually tried to take him down, he fought on. Hope and faith gave him light in the darkness. When things got hard, his thoughts turned to his brothers… his Savior and Jack. Hope allowed Grandpa to believe in miracles and he prayed for 60 years for a certain one. The miracle he hoped for was to one day bring Jack home. Though he knew in his heart where Jack was, and it wasn’t with that broken body, he wanted to give him a proper burial with the honors that he felt his hero deserved. I think he felt it was the least a loving little brother could do.
Grandpa had the phone numbers and mailing addresses to government agencies practically memorized. He scoured every lead and every channel he could find. He was constantly coming to dead ends and yet he pushed on. In 2005, my uncle Jake flew with Grandpa to Washington D.C. to visit the War Memorials. While there, they attended the MIA/POW Annual Conference and met researchers who were working on a project to identify remains that were found in the Punchbowl in Hawaii. They took my grandpa’s DNA and eventually, DNA from his little sister. Things were looking up and Grandpa was thrilled!
That year a grandson was sent to South Korea on a mission for our church. As my brother opened his call and read the place he would serve, Grandpa wept. Jack’s great nephew would be serving the very people Jack lost his life protecting. It was a moment I will never forget. Some may say it was a coincidence, but Grandpa believed it was the Lord reminding us that He hadn’t forgotten.
In 2009, and after no encouraging word on the DNA, American Legion Post 49 helped us hold a memorial service for Major Jack Griffiths at Camp Williams Cemetery. It was a beautiful service that meant so much to Grandpa and his sweet sister, Gloria. Our family prayed that he would find closure, and in many ways he did. But, he never gave up hope that one day Jack would finally come home.
Grandpa was reunited with his big brother on January 5, 2012. After all he had experienced, through all the heartache, and despite the fiery artillery of the adversary, Grandpa had learned to hope. From that hope, he developed faith. His faith allowed him to change, and to develop a relationship with another brother, Jesus Christ. With faith in Christ and a tender knowledge that he would see his brother again, Bob passed away. Though Grandpa’s body was gone, his hope remained in the hearts of his posterity.
In October of 2016, Jack’s son was contacted by the researchers who had taken the DNA samples all those years earlier. Jack had been found and he was finally coming home. On January 11, 2017, 5 years after Grandpa left this earth, Jack was officially laid to rest with full military honors at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.
A miracle had happened.
After 66 years, Grandpa’s precious dream had finally come true.
“Believe in miracles. I have seen so many of them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost. Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead.” -Jeffrey R. Holland
In his unique and imperfect way, my sailor grandpa taught me where to anchor my soul. He taught me that no mistake need be permanent, to look forward with an eternal perspective, and that miracles still happen. After all the pain, if he could choose hope, surely we can too. Even on the darkest of nights, hope shines a light. Hope is never lost, my friends. If God can heal the broken heart of veteran and find the lost body of his brother what miracle can He work in the rest of us? Choose hope. Hold tight and drop anchor.
**Our family would like to publicly thank all those men and women who give countless hours trying to locate, identify, bring home, and honor our United States POW/MIA soldiers. You are truly heroes… angels among us. We cannot begin to express the gift you give to families across the nation, just like ours. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
If you’d like to help the cause, please visit and donate to the following organizations:
In honor of Grandpa, Jack, and their story of hope,
I’ve created a project you can make as a family to inspire you to choose hope.
Find it HERE.
To learn more about the principles of peace and how they can help bring you closer to the Savior,
please visit mormon.org.
And for #PrinceofPeace activities, lessons, and projects, make sure to stop by The Red Headed Hostess!