Monday, October 8, 2012

Ladies First

The Great Wall
Today, we walked on the only man-made object that can be spotted from space. Of all the places we’ve been in China, the Great Wall has been the most beautiful, peaceful, and remarkable activity that we have enjoyed with our veterans and other guests. The slope was steep, but it was a great way to start the last day of our trip.

Our server sliced
our freshly cooked
Laura, Chelsea, Lili, and Carissa
during their hike of The Great Wall
We had our lunch today at the Jade Factory. The food was still traditional, but delicious. Afterwards, the group was given some time to learn the history of Jade, tour the factory, touch some very expensive pieces, and do some shopping.  Our last stop of the day was a visit to the Ming Tombs. The atmosphere at the tomb was very peaceful as well, and we were enriched with much history. As tonight is our very last night in China we concluded the trip with a farewell banquet. At the banquet gratitude was expressed to our veterans, Charlie’s family, and the rest of our guests. We even were able to enjoy Peaking Duck, which is a delicacy here.

 The veteran that I have been blessed to accompany on this trip is Colonel Bob Hemlinger. Mr. Hemlinger is by far the most genuine and wise man that I know.  In addition to learning about his time as a Marine in China from 1947-49, and the part he played in Charlie Two-Shoes’ incredible journey, I have spent this time uncovering every sweet and interesting detail about this man. Bob and I have developed a relationship so sweet that I can do nothing but thank God for allowing our paths to cross. I look forward to continuing to being a part of his life.

Chelsea and Bob walk together to The Great Wall.
 During the trip, Mr. Hemlinger has drilled the phrase, “ladies first” into my head.  Whether it is entering a doorway, exiting a bus, or serving our food at every meal, he insists that I am first. If I try to do otherwise I get a glare. At first I thought the glare was intimidating, but now I see the love and kindness behind the look he gives while a grin is trying to form.

 Bob and his wife Deniece have been married for 63 years. Bob was 19 when he married her, and everyone on this trip has noticed in one way or another how deeply in love he is with his wife.  Bob shows off her picture and refers to her as being too beautiful for her age.  Mr. Hemlinger is a retired high school football coach and social studies teacher. His knowledge and desire to learn history has opened my eyes to see all the details I have been missing for so long.

 The past 10 days have been extremely rewarding. I am going to truly miss this Texan that now calls me his 5th granddaughter. Bob recently moved to North Carolina, but I pray that I get to see the man again who told me, “I entered the war a boy, but left a man.”

Chelsea Silvey


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