I wish to write a note of praise and give honor to Mr. Robert Honeycutt, who passed away on Monday, April 30, 2012. His humility and gracious spirit would never have been allowed my publishing these words while he was alive.
Three years ago I was a Boy Scout eager to complete my Eagle rank, which required a service project for its completion. For most of my life, I have loved studying the history of World War II. It was only natural that I sought out Mr. Honeycutt and his Veterans of All Wars Museum in Chickamauga, Ga., for my Eagle project. I asked Mr. Honeycutt if I could do anything to help him and the musuem that could serve as my Eagle project. He said the museum needed more wall space for displays. He needed three more walls. I organized some other Scouts and parents. We built the walls. Our reward was the opportunity to honor the veterans who gave so much for our freedom. I was rewarded with a personal tour of the museum’s memorabilia, as well as an in-depth recounting of Mr. Honeycutt’s own experiences in the war.
I was enthralled and amazed at what he had endured at the hands of the Nazis. His plane was shot down over enemy territory; he was imprisoned in a Nazi stalag, suffered pistol and rifle whippings which resulted in the loss of hearing and broken facial bones; and he had survived the infamous death march from near the Polish borders all the way into Bavaria in southern Germany. For weeks the soldiers marched through rain and freezing weather, drinking from mud puddles and eating anything that they could grab along the road. It was nothing less than a miracle that he survived long enough to be liberated by the advancing British army near Munich.
However, there is a bigger miracle. When I questioned him about his feelings toward the Germans who had so abused and tortured him, his response was remarkable, noble and unexpected. He said, “I hold no bad feelings toward the German people or the soldiers. They were told what to do on the penalty of death. They were following orders; unfortunately, their leaders were evil.”
“I forgave them years ago,” he added.
I now am a missionary serving in Guatemala. I am proclaiming the love and grace of our Savior to any who are willing to listen to the message of salvation. When I recount the words of Christ as he was hanging on the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do,” I ponder the love and forgiveness that the Savior had for his torturers. “Can I ever develop such a forgiving heart?” I ask myself. “Is it possible for any human being to develop such love?” I then am reminded of Robert Honeycutt and know it is possible for a human being to truly develop a Christ-like forgiving heart no matter what he has experienced. More than ever I know what is expected of me as a follower of the Savior.
Thank you, Mr. Honeycutt for being such a wonderful example to me as a young man. I will never forget your kindness, your compassion and your example of what a man should be. You will always be remembered. My children will know of you and their children alike. You are my hero, sir. Thank you for enriching my life.
Tyler E. Forrester, Guatemala City, Guatemala (formerly of Flintstone, Ga.)