Death at Palermo

Troops from 51st Highland Division unloading stores
from tank landing craft on the opening day
of the Allied invasion of Sicily, 10 July 1943

Patrick attends our homeless branch in downtown Salt Lake City. A few weeks ago, he shared a story with me about his dad that I can’t seem to get off my mind.

His father Edward fought in World War II. He was an infantryman, part of the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943. Eventually, his battalion was encamped on top of a hill, near the city of Palermo.

One morning, Edward kept getting the feeling that he should go down to the river below the hill. He finally went down to the river, alone.

He was met there by a woman, a stranger, who said to him, “Eduardo! Eduardo!” as if she knew him.

While he was below the hill, his camp was shelled by Axis artillery, and when the firestorm stopped, all the soldiers on the hill had been killed. Not one of them was left alive. Only Patrick’s father survived.

Years later, Edward told Patrick the story. Patrick asked his father why he of all people was spared. Edward’s simple answer: “So you could be born.”

I am reminded of these words from the New Testament: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Angels are among us—and angel voices. Some are mortal, some immortal. They have messages for us. They’ll protect and guide us if we’ll listen.

2 thoughts on “Death at Palermo

  1. Mark Butler September 29, 2015 / 2:00 am

    There is a city in Sicily named Palermo. I suspect that's what was intended.


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