Mr. Speaker, there is an old saying, good friends are God’s way of taking care of us. Samuel Schwartz, a veteran of the Second World War knew this was true of his good friend, James Linton.
On April 2, 2018, Sam died at the age of 94. Full of laughter and stories from the past, James knew that Sam’s time was coming to an end.
Sam had no living family members when he died, and James knew he couldn’t let his friend take his final breaths alone. Sitting with Sam through his final days, James provided good company, even holding his hand when he took his final breath.
Samuel was an accomplished man, both in the service and in his long career in business. He enlisted in the Marine Corps one year after Pearl Harbor, and served as part of the American Invasion Force, taking part in the invasion and defense of four islands in the Pacific.
He rose to the rank of Technical Sergeant, but perhaps his most significant accomplishment in the Marine Corps was meeting Elaine Hinrichs, a member of the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve who would become his bride of 60 years before her passing in 2009. Sam went on to have a 20-year career with Ardan’s Catalog Showrooms, eventually leaving as the company’s Chief Executive Officer.
He later served as president for Whitmark Catalog Showrooms and the Zondervan Company’s Bible publishing consumer group, where he landed motivated by his lifelong Christian faith. Above all, he was a caring friend and a faithful husband.
With no living family, James feared that Sam’s funeral would be sparsely attended. Such a funeral simply would not properly honor Sam’s life and legacy. Thus, he sent out an open invitation, hoping that a handful of others would attend.
In the following days, several groups and individuals answered James’ call. Several veterans groups, including the local American Legion Post and the Veterans of Foreign Wars attended the funeral at Graceland Cemetery in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Members of the Patriot Guard Riders provided a line of American flags for Sam’s casket to be carried through, and members of the Kent County Veterans Honor Guard performed the three-volley salute. Several active duty servicemen from multiple branches attended, including two Marines who presented a folded flag to James.
Dozens of strangers, having seen James’ message, also showed up to pay their respects to the World War II Marine Corps veteran. Our World War II veterans represent the greatest generation.
In the words of President Harry S. Truman, ‘‘Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.’’
James Linton made sure his friend’s sacrifice for this country would not go unnoticed. Samuel Schwartz and James Linton demonstrate the true meaning of friendship.
And that’s just the way it is.