Belated Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas ! – December 2011
The last week in November and the month of December are one of my favorite times of the year. It is time to remember our blessings, our family, our friends, and our faith and to express our thanks for each of these.
Seven years ago, I was privileged to participate in a short trip to Ensenada, Mexico with 12 other persons to assist a small church in their facilities. The floor of their building was dirt, with a few benches and chairs. There were no lights, no heat, no air conditioning, and no windows – only the open end of the building with a large swinging door. The rest room facilities were also very primitive – a leaning one-holer with no roof and cracks in the walls so people could see in or out. Our task was to build a septic tank, and a building that would contain flush toilets and sinks which would obtain water by gravity flow from a large elevated tank which could be refilled as necessary. It was by far, the most poverty stricken area I have ever experienced.
One member of our group was a young 14-year old boy named Adam. He was in his freshman year at McKay High School in Salem. Four years later as a senior, Adam would be a starter on the offensive and defensive line on the football team and excel in throwing events on the track team. His name is still listed among the best at McKay High School in the weight room, especially in the 300-lb. bench press and the 275-lb. incline. Meanwhile, back in Ensenada while we adults spent our day in “construction”, Adam and some other teenagers played games with the neighborhood kids, told Bible stories, and did some craft projects. I can still see the jubilation on the children’s faces as Adam gave special attention to them, or raised them up and carried them on his shoulders.
I share this story because on November 26, 2011 (the Saturday after Thanksgiving), Adam was killed in Afghanistan. He was serving as a field radio operator in the Marines 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion in Helmand Province and was on foot patrol at the time of his death. He had been scheduled to return to his home base in Okinawa in one week and already had his plane ticket purchased to be home at Christmas.
As I said earlier, the last week in November and the month of December is a special time of the year – a time to remember our blessings, our family, our friends and our faith. For me, this year is even more personal, as I remember and give tribute to Adam and everyone who has sacrificed for the cause of freedom. It is because of them, we are privileged to have a Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas.
Story by Elvon Kauffman.
Elvon Kauffman has been drag racing since 1975. He has been a NHRA Northwest Division Bracket Champion twice – first in 1978 when he defeated fellow Woodburn racer, Joe DiFillipi at Seattle International Raceway and secondly, in 1980 when he again defeated a Woodburn racer, Ron Burch at Woodburn Dragstrip. He was the first and only World Champion in Heavy Bracket, winning with his 1970 Plymouth Road Runner 4-speed at the now defunct Ontario Motor Speedway in October, 1980.
Elvon’s variety of life experiences become the basis for the stories he shares in Straight Talk, a monthly column produced by Woodburn Dragstrip. Hopefully, you will enjoy reading them.