My only son was drafted into the United States Army just three days after his eighteenth birthday. He was attending Brigham Young University at the time. He was sent immediately to Ft. Lewis, Washington. He had never been away from home before and was ill because he had given blood for the blood bank. He became very discouraged and homesick, so much so, that he was under the doctor’s care, and would cry so hard that he couldn’t write to us at home.
One Sunday he was given the day off, and with others went to Tacoma. While walking around he found the Tacoma Ward and attended services. That night back in camp he wrote the first letter we’d had in six weeks. In it he told of finding the Church and attending sacrament meeting.
“The people were so friendly and kind,” he said, “especially when they learned I’m a Latter-day Saint, that I’m not homesick any more. I’m not alone up here now. I’ve found our Church. I’m going to say a prayer of thanks and go to bed.”
He attended services in Tacoma every Sunday that he could leave camp. In California he again located the Church and felt he wasn’t so alone in the world.
Then he was sent to the Philippine Islands, the only Latter-day Saint in his group. Because he refused to smoke or drink, he was left out of the social life in camp. However, there was a native boy who worked around the army camp, whose father was Hawaiian and his mother Japanese, who didn’t smoke or drink. My son was attracted to this native and they associated together.
One Sunday morning this fellow kept working with his radio, but he couldn’t seem to get the program he wanted. Suddenly he jumped up and shouted, “There it is,” and the Tabernacle Choir came on. My boy said that he hurried over and told him that the program was originating just 30 miles from his home. He learned that this native boy was a Latter-day Saint too and loved to hear that program from Salt Lake City. This fellow knew where the servicemen held Church in Manila every Sunday afternoon. That afternoon they went together to Manila and a Latter-day Saint service.
There were only eight or ten of them, but they met every Sunday and tried to hold a sacrament meeting. The boys took turns praying, speaking and administering the sacrament, with all joining in singing the hymns.
After returning home, the Sunday morning Tabernacle Choir broadcast was never forgotten, and was listened to until just time to get to Sunday School.
This fall my son was called on a mission. He was called to the Southern States, the same mission where I labored 24 years ago, and his grandfather labored 54 years ago. It was there his grandmother was born and joined the Church while a young girl and was disowned by her parents, brothers, and sisters. In a recent letter he said, “One of the members lives close to where we hold Sunday School, so I go out there and listen to the Tabernacle Choir every Sunday morning.”
My thanks and my son’s thanks to the good Saints in Tacoma and to the Tabernacle Choir for the golden threads of friendship and song which tie us to home and our Church, and keeps us from being alone in the world.