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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Can Salvation Be Found Through An Army?

Those who know me, know that I am Jewish, following the religion of my Ukrainian Russian mother and of my maternal ancestors. They also know that my Danish father was Lutheran and that my paternal relatives adhered to Christianity.

I have lived in both the Jewish world and the Christian world. I have fond memories of personal experiences related to both worlds. My childhood included happy visits to Jewish and to Christian grandparents.

I have great respect for true believers and practitioners both of Judaism and of Christianity, as I do for true believers and practitioners of all non-Satanic religions.

I have experienced and continue to practice the Jewish observance, traditions, and celebration of Chanukah. I have also experienced the Christian observance, traditions, and celebration of Christmas.

This Roland Hansen Commentary revolves around fond memories of my father, Robert Christian Hansen, and his recollections of the Salvation Army that he relayed to me.

Having suffered a major heart attack, my father retired in 1965 from Doehler-Jarvis National Lead Company. Beginning back in the spring of 1971 and through early 1984 when my dad died, I visited my father every Saturday morning, with very rare exceptions, in his North Toledo home. During most of those years, I joined my dad in a routine he had initiated shortly after his early disability retirement. That routine consisted of weekly Saturday morning walks from his home in the 800 block of Superior Street through near downtown Toledo, stopping at Woolworth’s, Lamson’s, and Tiedtke’s lunch counters for a cup or two of coffee at each location before the return walk to his home.

As the downtown Toledo stores died out and as my father weakened with poor health, our Saturday morning routine changed to pretty much just having cup after cup of coffee around his kitchen table accompanied by hours of conversation.

Throughout all those years, however, we always made numerous shopping trips together throughout the Christmas season. My dad loved giving Christmas gifts to everyone in the extended Hansen family at the annual Hansen Family gathering on Christmas Eve.

In addition to the Saturday routine, my dad had another routine to which he adhered during the Christmas season. My father always, always tossed coins, and sometimes currency, into every Salvation Army kettle along the path in which our walks took us through downtown Toledo. He did the same thing with every Salvation Army kettle that we came across in our annual Christmas shopping trips in the malls and elsewhere.

You see, my dad had a strong respect for the good works performed by the Salvation Army. The respect my dad had for the Salvation Army was not just something he gave or felt because of some religious or altruistic reason. No, indeed. The respect was earned by the actions and deeds of which my father had first-hand knowledge. During World War II, my father served in the United States Army. He told me of some of the personal, family, and emergency experiences he and his fellow troops went through during World War II. He also told me that the Salvation Army always provided assistance without ever asking for money or for anything in return. My father said that meant so very much to all those who were the recipients of the good deeds of the Salvation Army.

When speaking of the Salvation Army, my father frequently contrasted it with another very well known organization that shall remain nameless in this writing. Dad said the other organization also assisted our troops with personal and family emergencies and with other matters but generally requested a financial payment. That memory of the other organization always made Dad see Red. Please don’t be Cross with me for not naming that other organization. I think you should be able to figure it out for yourself.

‘Tis the season. Please give generously to the Salvation Army kettles during this season. More than that, please be supportive of the Salvation Army deeds throughout the entire year.

The following is an article from World Book Multimedia Encyclopedia, 2004 Edition, Version 8.2.1:

Salvation Army is an international Christian religious and charitable organization. It is set up and operated on a military pattern, and its leaders have the ranks of military officers. The Salvation Army works to foster a love of God and to provide for the needy. It offers its services to people of any race, creed, sex, or age.

Services and activities. The basic unit of the Salvation Army is the corps community center. Each center is directed by a commanding officer who administers both religious and social service activities. These centers conduct a varied program, providing religious services, counseling, moral education, and other social services. In addition, the Salvation Army operates a variety of institutions, including hospitals, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, camps, boys and girls clubs, senior citizen residences and clubs, and day-care centers. It also provides education programs for unwed mothers, family assistance, and aid to prisoners and their families. The Salvation Army includes many musicians who use music as a way to preach the gospel.

Much of the worldwide service of the Salvation Army is given to people in less developed countries. These services include education, basic needs, vocational instruction, and disaster relief.

History. William Booth, a Methodist minister, founded the Salvation Army in London in 1865. That year, he began conducting meetings to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of London's East End. His work was well received, and he organized a group known as the Christian Mission. In 1878, the group changed its name to the Salvation Army. The organization soon spread outside Britain. It was established in the United States in 1880.

Today, the Salvation Army works in over 85 countries. It has about 25,000 men and women serving as officers. Each officer is an ordained minister. The Salvation Army has more than 14,000 corps community centers worldwide. There are about 420,000 U.S. members. International headquarters are at 101 Queen Victoria Street, London. U.S. headquarters are at 799 Bloomfield Avenue, Verona, NJ 07044.


Judy said...

The answer to your question is YES!
Did I win the prize for the first correct answer? Even if I didn't, I promise I won't be Cross with you!But I might get a little Red in the face!

Ben said...

I always marvel at the people who stand out there in the cold ringing the bells...

..just last week this lady who had to be at least 85 was standing out in the freezing cold outside Giant Eagle ringing the bell. I put in $1 and she said thank you. I was like no, thank you, you are the one standing out here.

But nonetheless, a great organization - and a great story, Roland.

Tim Higgins said...


I too am a believer in this Army and am grateful for the ability to contribute through the e-kettles.

Thanks for taking the time to talk about a group that gets far too few headlines these days.

Roland Hansen said...

Some of the best stories often go untold. I'm only too happy to bring forth some light. It's all about "doing the most good."
Peace on Earth. Best wishes to all!