Editorial | A book lost becomes a treasure found

It is a familiar story. An item that meant a lot once, and was carefully put away, is lost as the years pass. It is forgotten only to be joyfully rediscovered in a fluke, a happy accident.

Our story of the little prayer book lost by Island resident Ted Mogil, 84, some 60 years ago and found by his new friend, Wil Beach, in Iowa is a small but powerful story. It is a story of faith, of memory and of the connection of the past to the future. It is also a story of bonds between people that can be made on the slimmest of circumstances, the most unlikely of events.

Mr. Mogil’s simple inscription in the book that he carried with him throughout his tour during World War II became a message in a bottle floating through a sea of years. At a used book sale at his synagogue, middle schooler Wil Beach finds this tiny book of importance — a proverbial needle in a haystack — his senses heightened to the importance of such an item because of his own friendship with a veteran and former prisoner of war in his hometown.

The story reminds us of many things — things that we celebrate and some things we would really not wish to remember. As a Jew who volunteered to serve his country, Mr. Mogil and soldiers of color or other differences, had to not just worry about the Germans and their allies, but the prejudice of fellow soldiers. While Mr. Mogil wisely took these realities into account, he still carried his book with him as a symbol of home and faith. It is hard to remember that this was an act of courage at the time.

Yet through this story, we are reminded not only of the role of faith and the sacrifices of war, but of the kindness and sometimes the persistence of strangers.

Among us are many who still carry the burdens of war and the many losses it brought. There are several here who carry the tattoos of Nazi death camps. There are soldiers and civilians from many armed conflicts who experienced horrors that no one should see. There are families who lost sons, daughters, husbands and fathers, and lived through years of uncertainty. There are those who have returned alive, but will never be the same.

Then, as now, we carry familiar items that represent home, family and faith with us as we travel into battle or just through our daily lives. Those tiny talismans can also be a link to new friends who we meet along the way.

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