Footsteps of a Life Journey
Destined By Grace
by James Beverly Willis
9" x 6"
My name is James Willis. I am not the first to carry this name, but I may be the first one with this name to carry a Purple Heart.
For several years I have been writing down the memories I have about events I've lived through. Most of those were ordinary events, and yet, some of them quite extraordinary indeed. Who else could tell these stories? There is truth in the saying that when a person dies, a library of information is lost forever. Through God's mercy I have lived a rich and full life with many meaningful experiences.
As I have reached the latter years of my life, it is due time I put my writings into a book to leave as a dedication to those who have passed before me and to those who follow. The result my writings is a compilation of part history and part remembered experiences.
My early memories take me back to my childhood. The formative years of my life took place on my parents' farm during the 1920s and through the Great Depression of the 1930s. It was from those early beginnings that my life has been shaped. Stories of my youth and my life, which led up to college, give the reader a brief insight as to what country life on the farm in southern Indiana was like during those years.
I have clear memories of my years of school, military career, marriage to my beautiful wife and raising our children. There are many events that seem as if they happened yesterday. My life story would not be complete without the telling of a variety of my adult living experiences and family adventures.
One chapter of this book is a brief account of my military experience. In my previous book, The Odyssey of a Purple Heart Vet, I have written a more complete account about my experience in the Battle of Okinawa during WWII. It is only by the grace of God that I survived to write about it and I encourage the reader to refer to that book for the full details.
Everyone who reads this book has some ancestor(s) who traveled to this country from somewhere else in the world. Like many others who have studied their genealogy, in my research I found some fascinating details about my ancestors who struggled to come to America before it was a nation. A section at the beginning of my life story is devoted to them. I have also included a little of the Willis family history that is known and experienced during my lifetime. There is a complete Willis genealogy, which is traced back to our ancestors that came to America from Wales, in a book written by my brother, Imel H. Willis, called "Plow a Straight Row (Willisville Beginnings and Beyond)".
The beginning chapter of my book is of special interest to me. I trust others, especially descendants of the Willis ancestors, will find it meaningful to learn about some of the Willis origins. Perhaps it will make Willisville (formerly Clarkβs Station), which is in southern Indiana, a special place on the map for you.
All of us have had certain life experiences that are more memorable and important than others. I have lived through a fascinating period of history and could not tell of all the marvelous discoveries humanity has made nor all the social and cultural changes I have seen. Even if I could remember all the turns of my life, it would take a very large book to tell it all.
Throughout all of these pages no intent is for my own glorification or to be boastful of any deeds or accomplishments. Though my accounts of my and my family's adventures may not be complete, I have composed my story as best as I am able to remember.
Perhaps my greatest joy in life has been the gift of God's blessings of a loving wife and beautiful children. If I have anything to boast about, it is this fortune. I am very thankful to God for giving me loving parents, patient teachers, and the wisdom and instruction of others who have guided my footsteps through my life. I hope you will be blessed as I share with you my journey and how God's grace shaped my destiny. My prayer is that you will find Him to guide you as well.