From Chicken Soup for the Soul of America

Vintage Voices

Chromed wheelchairs and walkers—parked bumper-to-knee—lined the walls. Dented and scarred from life’s battles, silver-haired seniors packed the residents’ dining hall at a local eldercare facility. The afternoon’s scheduled activity was shoved aside to make room for the topic crowding everyone’s minds: the September 11 terrorist attacks on America.

These are their thoughts, their comments, their opinions—ageless wisdom from those nearly forgotten faces in the rearview mirror:

On Fear . . .

• If we feed hope, fear will starve to death.—Selma, age 74

• I always thought the Great Depression was the hardest times. But worrying about the future for your grandkids is harder.—Elsie, age 82

• At first, I just wanted to pull the covers over my head. Later, I decided to bow my head.—Bernice, age 75

• I spent all my working years trying to make life better for my children and grandchildren. Terrorism and war weren’t what I had in mind.—Henry, age 85

• In times like these, we need a hand to hold.—Lena, age 101

• Worry is like a rocking chair: It keeps you busy, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.—Ava, age 71

• Why worry when you can pray?—Trudy, age 89

• When fear comes in uninvited, just don’t give it a chair to sit on.—Conrad, age 84

On Courage . . .

• Tragedy is tough, but we’re tougher.—Rosa, age 94

• Once, I served with the best, for the best. Nothing has changed.—Gordie, WWII veteran, age 79

• Even in the worst of times, we need to be grateful for our blessings.—Inez, age 90

• We’ve survived hardship and loss. We’re a strong generation. The same God who got us through then will get us through now.—Walter, WWII veteran, age 81

• It’ll feel better when it quits hurtin’.—Ernst, age 78

• Americans know a “call to arms” really means my arm in your arm . . . with God’s arm around us all. —Herman, age 83

On Sorrow . . .

• Some people are gonna be mad at God.—Eugene, age 82

• I lost a brother to WWI. I lost a son to WWII. I saw grandnephews serve in Korea, a granddaughter nurse the wounded in Vietnam and a great-grandson board a ship for the Persian Gulf. And I can only shake my head in disappointment . . . just as God must be doing. When will mankind learn?—Lucy, age 100

• The more I see how people can hate, the better I like dogs.—Bill, age 97

• I’ve learned it’s love, not time, that heals all wounds. —Selma, age 80

• War and sin . . . to my way of thinking, they’re one and the same. And both corrode the soul.—Vera, age 88

• I have old memories, but young hopes.—Elverne, age 77

On Hope . . .

• Hope means hanging on even after others let loose. —Fern, age 75

• I hope our government ain’t all vine and no taters. —Wilber, age 80

• We can only hope for the best, prepare for the worst . . . and make do with whatever happens. —Lillian, age 74

• Kites rise against the wind. So will we.—Herman, age 83

• My favorite words in the Bible are, “And it came to pass.” This, too, will pass.—Marie, age 93

• Them terrorists barked up the wrong tree. The US of A is made of sterner stuff than they know.—Wilber, age 80

On God . . .

• When we think we can’t help in some other way, we can always pray.—Marta, age 96

• I think God allows dark times so that we’ll search for his light.—Howard, WWII veteran, age 81

• My momma always said, “Evil stands on one leg; goodness stands on two.”—Hazel, age 92

• I keep wondering, Where is God in all of this? And I keep thinking, He’s waiting to hear from you.—Edna, age 103

• God is as tough as a pine knot.—Mary Margaret, age 77

• We need to look to God in prayer. My knees don’t work anymore, but I’m kneeling in my heart just the same.—Marie, age 93

Carol McAdoo Rehme

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