On Thursday I shared with you about when I, and many others, met and thanked returning Viet Nam POW Gary Thornton. Well, that wasn’t the last I’d hear about this American hero.
After the evening of the Seabee Ball in early March of 1973, my momentary life in the limelight ended. Gary Thornton had a lot of living to catch up on and I hoped only the best for him. Having been married to a Viet Nam vet, I was well acquainted with the many adjustments involved for people returning from the war, but for POW’s, reentry to family life and to living in the United States had to be incredible.
While I can’t recall the exact date, I do recall praying that Gary was finding joy and peace with his new found freedom. Still living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I remember sitting on the floor of my apartment one Saturday listening to the radio, and involved in some craft, when a news broadcaster announced that Gary Thornton, one of the Viet Nam POWs, had just married a former Playboy bunny.
My heart was pounding, and my jaw probably dropped. I had just heard on the radio an answer to my vague request that I’d had never even verbalized. Since I worked five days a week, what were the chances that I’d be home and listening to the radio at just the exact time that this somewhat obscure announcement was made? Yet I had an answer I didn’t really deserve. At that time in my life I thought it an amazing coincidence.
I married another military man and relocated to northern Virginia. Years passed, and in 1983 I entered a Redbook Magazine’ Great Embarrassing Moments Contest. The event I wrote about for the contest took place on an evening when I was being given the instructions on the protocol of the Seabee Ball that I referred to in my earlier post. As I wrote the piece for the contest, it brought back so many memories of the Seabee Ball events I had participated in ten years earlier. Again, I wondered about how Gary Thornton was faring, and prayed that his life and marriage had been blessed.
Shortly after submitting my contest entry, I made my monthly trip to the Ft.Belvoir commissary to stock up on food and goods. While there I spotted a free magazine called Ladycom, and for some reason, this time I picked one up. After arriving home, stowing the food, and taking care of my young sons I sat sown to enjoy a cup of coffee and glanced through Ladycom. As I tuned the pages I came to an article about how some Viet Nam POW families were faring ten years after returning home. Gary Thornton was one of five or six POWs, interviewed for the story. He was still married to the former Playboy bunny; they had a daughter and were living very happily.
I was struck by all the combined factors necessary for me to have an answer to my simple prayer.
~ It had only been a short time since I wrote the piece for the contest and prayed.
~ Ten and a half years had passed.
~ Of the 556 returned POWs, Gary Thornton was one of only six or so interviewed.
~ I lived three thousand miles away from where I did on the evening of the Seabee Ball
~ I rarely went to the commissary and even less often picked up Ladycom.
Some people call it serendipity; others call it luck or coincidence. By that time in my life, I gave no credence to coincidence. I’d had the eyes of my heart opened enough times to see how God reveals Himself, and how He works in our lives and in the lives of others. It was such a simple request, yet I was delighted for His generous gift. Once again, I could only thank Him and praise Him for His faithfulness.