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Friday Night Feature: The Inherited Goggles --by Rev. Troy Heidt

When I was a young boy my father, who was a minister as I am now, pastored a church on a Native American reservation! My father befriended an elderly Native American man who had fought in World War 2 and was quite fond of Dad. This man developed lung cancer and passed away, but left my father with a very strange gift. My father had been given the wooden goggles and belt buckle of a Japanese soldier that this Native American elder had killed in the war. He wanted to leave it to his children, but they were all troubled in their lives so he left these items in the care of my father until one of his children would turn themselves around. (It seems like a morbid inheritance- but it meant something to this man who had fought for his life and our freedoms)

My father held on to the belt buckle and goggles for years and then one of this man's sons became a tribal leader on the reservation. Dad remembered the articles he'd been holding for such a time and presented them to our friend's son. He was grateful that my father gave him the items his father had saved from the war because he knew it was a form of approval from his father that lived beyond his father's lifespan.

A few months later my dad got a phone call from the reservation. The son who had received the gift of the goggles and belt buckle was on the phone and scared. He told my father that when he got the materials from him he'd put them in his basement and stored them in a safe place. He hadn't told his wife or children about what he'd received because he wanted to save these items and present them to his own "worthy" child one day.

One night his youngest son came up from the basement crying. He claimed he couldn't sleep in his room downstairs because he was scared. "The man in the uniform keeps yelling at me! I can't understand what he's saying, but he's angry!"The son was terrified to sleep in his room and his father remembered that he'd put the goggles and belt buckle in a box outside of his son's room. The boy, not knowing anything about the goggles or buckle, perfectly described a Japanese soldier, with "funny glasses" on, yelling at him.

Dad told him that perhaps instead of holding onto the spoils of war that he'd been given maybe it was time he burned them. He'd already received a greater gift from his father, he'd been bestowed his father's blessing from beyond the grave.

--Rev. Troy P. Heidt
troyh@trib.com

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