Contributed Photo: H. Lyle Grant circa 1944
One of the collections housed at the Eastern Arizona Museum & Historical Society in Pima, Arizona is bound copies of the Eastern Arizona Courier dating back to 1969. My sister, Jacque Felshaw, contributed articles to the “Graham County Guardian” and later to the “Eastern Arizona Courier” along with weekly columns, and she also served as editor. Last week, I decided to pull the bound copies for the year l97l – 50 years in history to see what had been printed about Independence Day that year. Here is what I found resulting in a renewed respect for my sister’s patriotic heart, her writing ability, and the patriotism of the Gila Valley, the sacrifice of Lyle Grant, and many other valley sons and daughters over the years. “Good Afternoon” was one of her weekly columns. The Pima Independence Day Flag raising has continued all these decades. This year it will be on Saturday, July 3, at Heritage Park next to the fire station at 6:30 a.m. with breakfast being served after the flag ceremony. – Edres Bryant Barney
Fifty Years Ago
By Jacque Felshaw
Eastern Arizona Courier – July 7, l97l
It was World War II. The young Pima man was flying his 18th mission over Nazi Germany. His plane was shot down and he had to parachute.
So strong was his desire to make it back to his own lines that he finally worked his way to the Dutch underground. But by then the Germans had over-run Holland and the extermination of those or the families of those Dutch participating in underground work was extremely severe.
Consequently, the young Pima man was turned over to the Germans.
In a gripping story, accentuated with the conviction with the true meaning of freedom and a stirring love of his country, Lyle Grant retold the events of his capture and life in a Nazi prison camp.
He was speaking before a small group of citizens of his old hometown of Pima. It was dawn, and the American flag was floating gently in the breeze after being raised by the careful hands of some young Boy Scouts. The day was July 4, 197l, last Sunday morning to be exact.
Grant described his prison camp days and the Black Hunger March in which he and several thousand other American flyers were forced to take part.
“They told us we would be marching six or seven days,” Grant said. But with the guns of Montgomery and his British fighters sounding in the background, the Germans put their prisoners through a 60-day plus ordeal that has blackened the pages of history.
But the scrappy little Arizonan was far from defeated.
He and a buddy decided to escape. They did, and they made their way to the British lines. They found, however, that it was more difficult to return to the lines than it was to get out.
Now, after many hospital beds later, and much history has gone by, Lyle Grant is back in his native Gila Valley. And after last Sunday morning’s Flag Raising Ceremony in Pima, a handful of local citizens have a much deeper understanding of and respect for their County Recorder.
In addition to his talk, Lyle and his wife, Ione, handed out copies of an article which he had written, thus permitting a bit of the spirit of our Independence Day celebration to linger a little longer.
The Principles of Americanism and Our Many Freedoms
By Lyle Grant July 1971
Americanism is the love of America, loyalty to her schools and institutions as being the best yet devised by man, to secure life, liberty, individual dignity, and happiness. The willingness to defend our flag and country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Americanism is a vital, active, living force. Americanism means peace, strength, the will, and courage to live as free men in a free land. It means a friendly hand to people everywhere who respect our institutions and our way of thinking. It is not just a word; it is a cause, a way of life, a challenge, and a hope in this world of sorrow.
Do we appreciate our many freedoms? Freedom of worship, freedom of the press, freedom of assemblage, freedom to work in such occupations as the experience, training, and qualifications of each enable him to secure and hold, regardless of color, race, or creed, freedom to enjoy the fruits of his word and the protection of his property right, and the right to pursue his happiness so long as he does not harm others in the pursuit of this endeavor. All of this was given and guaranteed in the Constitution of these United States.
And then out of this God-inspired Constitution and our nation’s birth, in the midst of a bitter war for our independence, there emerged on June 14, 1777, our national emblem or banner. A beautiful flag combining the blue of vigilance, perseverance, and justice, with the white of purity, and the red of hardiness and valor, in a symbol of freedom that has lifted the hearts of Americans down through the years.
It has been said that our stars and stripes is a living flag. It breathes vitality as it ripples in the breeze. It has exemplified vigor, fight, and endurance in proclaiming man’s freedom and his right to happiness through almost two centuries. It grows as our nation grows, adding a star for each new state taken into our union. The greatness of these United States is based on the spirit of her people – a people that rise above violence, riots, arson, looting-and marches that stem to violate laws and rights of law-abiding citizens.
This is a land of freedom, but it is because we have been willing to pay the price for this freedom. Let us remember in these very complicated days of our history that there is much need for something called patriotism. (This means love of one’s own country.)
This is the same America that we have known for over 195 years, but we have with us a new breed of agitators who want publicity, notoriety, and who want to call themselves Americans by ignoring the facts of freedom. Facts that have made us the greatest nation on the face of the earth. Why should we let this small minority, this new breed that has no respect for law and order, try to destroy our heritage and our values.
You are our future leaders of America, so keep your faith strong in the principles of Americanism! The Pledge of Allegiance is our creed.