“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer –

April 23, 1920 – A child is born in the heat and humidity of the poorest region in the United States; south Mississippi. He is the second of three siblings, and the only male.

1929 – Black Thursday – The American Great Depression descends upon almost every family in America. The Great Depression also sends negative shock waves around the world.

The Second World War is on the horizon.

The young boy senses that his parents are weak. His father kills himself by drowning in the Mississippi River. His mother leaves him and his siblings for better work in the north.

At the age of 11, young Jesse Davis is the man of the house and is responsible for the survival of the farm, providing income, and, most importantly, looking after his sisters.

1933 – Munich, Germany – As Jesse comes of age, an ignored threat begins to envelope Europe. A political organization is gaining power with visions of world domination and the destruction of Jews. While the leader of this organization was imprisoned for the organization’s attempt to take over the government, his resolve grows even stronger.

February 10, 1938 – Jesse becomes a bomber pilot in the United States Army Air Corps. His years of crop-dusting mosquito infested farmland will serve him well. Jesse cannot wait to protect his homeland and eradicate Nazis.

1940 – Europe – German Panzer Divisions, SS troops, and the mighty Luftwaffe have already easily invaded Poland and look to the west. The unprepared commanders and their troops in the low lands and France are crushed with lightning speed. Great Britain is next.

But, Adolph Hitler’s inability to follow the advice of his military commanders and the will of Winston Churchill and the British people, saves the island.

1944 – Great Britain – British aircraft are relentlessly bombing Berlin at night. Americans are bombing Berlin and other military installations by day. The massive Soviet army has crossed the River Volga.

The end of the war is near.

1946 – Jesse is proud that he assisted the Allies in defeating an opponent that seemed invincible to most of the world. He seeks to find new ways of helping his fellow man.

That same year, he is blessed by meeting a beautiful lady. She is self-sufficient, tough, and even during the Great Depression, she never relied on hand outs, the government, or family. Jesse and Susan fall in love and marry in 1947. By 1951, they have three healthy children.

1952 – Oxford, Mississippi – Susan Davis, at only 32 years of age, dies from giving birth to their fourth child.

For the first time in his life, Jesse is a broken man.

Jesse was one of the most talented bomber pilots in the war, overcame every adversary from the playground to flight school, and knew nothing of defeat; until now.

For 45 days, he remains in his home.

However, he has three children to raise. He could not let them see his pain and weakness. He waits until the children are in bed to unleash his anger and pain.

Simultaneously, Susan’s grandparents, who are both ministers and convicted felons, try to take Jesse’s children. They fail because they underestimate the father. Jesse is just too strong to allow evil to teach his children how to deceive, steal, and be lazy.

The grandparents fail. The children will never forget their grandparents’ misdeeds as long as they live.

With the defeat of the grandparents, Jesse must find a way to raise his children and gain his confidence back. The only path would be helping others.

1962 – Tennessee – After years of study, the death of his parents, Jesse becomes a surgeon.

A bomber pilot to a surgeon? Why?

Jesse Davis loved to fly airplanes, crop dust fields, and provide for his family. But, he never knew why. Soon, he would learn that he just truly loved helping other people.

It was the first time that Jesse ever realized that he was grateful for helping other people. His love for his late wife and his three children lighted the flame within him that no one could put out.

Jesse traveled a path throughout his life that was honorable and loyal. He passed away on the same day as President Ronald Reagan; a fellow warrior.

I am not a doctor, but I believe that Jesse lived a long life because he found gratitude.

It is the gratitude that comes from God when we help others who are in pain, suffering, or lost.