January Update

Red
Red, in happier days

I must start out by apologizing for being so late preparing the last few months of updates for the website. I’ve been preoccupied lately, working night and day trying to make Red’s life as comfortable as possible. He had arthritis in his front legs, and at the age of 18 we were fighting a losing battle. Red’s pain finally ended on the 4th of February, probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, and the hardest day on the farm for his stable-mate “lil” Girl.

Animals and farms go together. Few farms are limited to just raising crops, and ours certainly isn’t. No matter what kind of animals you raise, you get attached to them, and some more than others. You get fond of ducks, chickens, and some of the smaller livestock. But you really do get to love the larger animals. It’s hard not to. Horses in particular are very intelligent, and they have personalities. They just become as much a part of your family as a dog or cat.

Red was the gentle giant of the farm; he was a horse that knew how to brighten your day. If you were not in the best of moods he would find a way to take your mind off your problems. He had a big heart that he would share with all.

Red was a real character, too. Many times, while I was working on the farm, Red would want to help and our tools would take a walk. Fixing fences was always one of his favorite jobs, he loved to help you move your supplies and tools around the farm –  but not necessarily where you wanted them! When we were filling the outside stock tank, he liked to stop the water by standing on the hose. Have you ever tried to move a 1400 lb. horse when he doesn’t want to?

When it came to our guests, he loved them all unconditionally. He knew what it took to get a smile and a laugh, and to warm a heart. Red was a people horse; he’d rather be with people than other horses, and if someone new came to the farm Red was right there to give his greeting. He could make people who might be timid around big horses feel relaxed and affectionate. All he wanted was to be loved and he would do anything to achieve his goal, which meant he mostly gave as much or more than he got.

“lil” Girl and I are sticking together like glue now and will carry on what Red started, helping veterans and their families enjoy the precious gift of life. Our hearts are broken right now, but together we will complete our mission.

So long Red – you will always be in our hearts!

John, Jody, and all our friends and family

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Memorial Day Message

We hope everyone had a happy and safe Memorial Day.  We spent part of our weekend visiting with the veterans in our own families, and leaving flowers at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetary for some of those who are no longer with us.  Our veterans and their families are always in our thoughts and prayers, particularly on the holidays dedicated to remembrance.

Thank you again, from a grateful country.

Freedom Farm Loses One of its Own

 

Photos of Dad in the South Pacific
Dad in WWII, Biak Island

 

On April 18th I lost my father at the age of 86. Dad was a Father, Veteran and Hero and will be truly missed by many.

Dad was an amazingly talented man; as a father his only purpose was to see that everything he did was with his family in mind. As Dad put it, “Once you have a family you sacrifice EVERYTHING for them – if I have to shovel horse—- to feed the family, I will”. Dad was a model builder by profession, but left that to make more money. He gave up the job he loved to feed the family he loved even more.

He carried on his love of models in our basement, so growing up with him as a Dad was like having your own Santa’s elf; no toy was left broken and no Halloween costume was too difficult to create.

He would try anything to be a part of his children’s lives even if it could result in bodily injury.  He was “as coordinated as a duck”, as he put it, so his knees were really sore after his first encounter with ice skates.

When WWII broke out Dad decided to enlist, but when he went to the enlistment station they told him to go home; he was too small. Having been told that, he left not hurt but angry – he wanted to serve. So a couple days later he went to another induction station and talked his way in. The only way was to be assigned to a machine shop, but it didn’t matter, he was in.

Dad was the WWII version of “Radar” – in basic they said his pack weighed more than he did.

He was shipped out to the South Pacific (he spent over a year on Biak Island) where he worked on military aircraft. The service Dad performed in the South Pacific made him proud to have done his part in defending this great land of ours. It was also there that he really developed his interest in airplanes and flying, and which later played a major role in his love of model making.

Dad was a hero to all of those who knew him and his talents. The kids in the neighborhood never had a toy stay broken, and had a surrogate Dad to help them with art projects for school that their own parents either had no clue how to do or didn’t have time. That’s the way he was. If you were a friend of ours, Dad treated you like one of his own. He was also a hero to all those parents whose children were lucky enough to be involved in many of his interests (Civil Air Patrol, Waukegan Model Rocket Club, Waukegan Tamburitzans, Lake County Model Boat Club). Dad was the man that could do everything – his mind was magical and he never had a negative thing to say about anyone. I never met anyone that didn’t like or respect him.

In reflecting on my father’s life I realized that he was about honor, truth and dedication to family, so having said that, I am changing the policy on the farm to include the families of the Veterans. Family unity is what built this place, and it will be fuel to make it grow. We are here to help you Veterans who need us, we are your family and we’re here.

Good-bye Dad. I hope I can be half the man you were.

Your Son,
John