Can we find an actor with the earnest manner and unassuming heroism of Jimmy Stewart?
Is there an actress with the grace and gentility of Donna Reed to play the female lead?
I humbly submit ‘Til We Meet Again: A Memoir of Love and War as a candidate for re-enactment on the big screen. Nailing the genre within an inch of its life, Ray and Betty Whipps (with Craig Borlase) have collaborated on a World War II era memoir that combines dashed hopes and danger; romance and suspense; faith and fiery battle scenes anchored in a setting of fascinating military, historical and geographical detail.
The curtain rises in present-day life with Ray and Betty, two nonagenarians who take us back through time to their childhoods set in the Great Depression, with their shoes lined in cardboard and their eyes filled with hope. Bouncing back from disappointment, they both played their roles in the European theatre with stoic determination and excellence, supported by a lively faith.
Told in first person from Ray’s perspective, he shares and lives this wisdom: “The way I saw the world would determine how I experienced it.” With the Old Testament’s Joshua as his role model and inspiration, he endured his stint as an infantryman in Paris under General Patton until he suffered a severe leg wound which placed him in hospital for thirty days under the care of a certain lovely nurse named Betty. She makes her contribution to the narrative arc through heartfelt letters, written to her parents and, eventually, to Ray. With the speed of war-time romance, they became engaged during that thirty-day hospitalization and vowed to marry when they were released from their duties.
As Ray shared his experiences along the Siegfried Line, his conversations with guys for whom the landing at Normandy and their role in Operation Overlord was fresh resume material, I was slogging along beside him. The smells and sounds of trench warfare set against a sky of “army issue gray” drove home the horror of war. The steady pulse of Ray’s prayer, “Keep me safe, Lord,” seeds the right kind pondering into the reader’s heart: Were Ray’s injuries a “no” to this prayer? Was Ray’s “good wound” a means of rescuing him from the attack during which the other fifty men in his platoon were either killed, captured or seriously wounded?
There is no doubt that the brave men and women of this era were changed by their fears, by the hardships, disappointments and deprivations of war. However, in the case of Ray and Betty Whipps, they were also formed by their faith in a God who works behind the scenes, bringing meaning to suffering and orchestrating our lives so that we have a story to tell. For Ray and Betty, it looks as if their story will include their seventieth wedding anniversary on September 29, 2015, and a life of whole-hearted devotion to each other, to their family, their country, and their God.
This book was provided by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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