If this flag could talk …
Born on May 24, 1928, Thelma (Hill) Schotter has a house and heart full of memories in East Stroudsburg, Pa., as she approaches her 90th birthday.
Growing up a Salvationist in Plymouth, England, Thelma survived multiple bombings during World War II, including one which blew her out of bed and into a wall. Over the years, Thelma has never lost sight of what was important to her—God, family, and The Salvation Army.
Thelma’s father, who was at the battle of Dunkirk, carried the small, black New Testament (pictured) through France during the war, keeping it safe and well read. He gave it to his daughter before she embarked upon The Queen Mary in 1946 on her way to Pier 90 in New York with her new husband, Fred, a GI fresh out of the war.
His hope was that the Bible would keep his daughter safe, as it did him. A father’s wish was granted as the well-loved and time-worn Bible continues to protect Thelma and offer comfort through hard times and pure delight as she thumbs through its memories in her mind.
A second, brown New Testament was picked up by a soldier on the beach at Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. That soldier, William Ridler, was Thelma’s cousin and he passed it on to her in the hopes that it protected her as it did him that fateful day.
Another memento close to Thelma’s heart is a small Salvation Army flag, which flew on a truck of Thelma’s brother Edward Hill, who was originally stationed in India and then Africa during World War II. He was part of Gen. Bernard Montgomery’s famous 8th Army.
Her brother lovingly affixed the flag to the truck and there it stayed and travelled with him and his platoon, seeing unimaginable horrors and witnessing amazing miracles.
Now, if we could only get that flag to talk…
—Cari Friend is the executive secretary at the East Stroudsburg, Pa., Corps.