RURAL BRYANT, SD, PRESENTS:
July 25, 1994
Ist Picture, As a Boy
"For you to love the while he lives, and mourn for when he's dead."
It may be six or seven years, or twenty-two or three,
But will you, 'til I call him back, take care of him for Me?
He'll bring his charms to gladden you
and shall his stay be brief
You'll have his lovely memories as solace
for your grief.
I cannot promise he will stay, since all from earth return;
But there are lessons taught down there
I want this child to learn.
I've looked the wide world over, in My search
for teachers true;
And from the throngs that crowd life's lanes,
I have selected you.
Now, will you give him all your love,
Not thinking the labor in vain...?"
--Lines Selected from brochure poem.
LUTHER W. SVANOE
August 20, 1946
Redwood Valley, California
July 21, 1994
At the age of
Forty Seven Years
Historic Fort Snelling Chapel
Monday, July 25th, 1994, 11:00 a.m.
Pastor Rennard Svanoe
Mother, Myrtle A. Svanoe of Eden Prairie;
brothers, Rev. Rennard Svanoe of Madison, WI,
Alfred Svanoe of Redwood Valley, CA and Victor Svanoe of Eden Prairie;
sisters, Miriam Rinderknecht of Park City, UT, Rachel Kristine of Jenner, CA, Naomi Iserman of Onamia, MN and Deborah Wilken of Roseville, MN.
"Amazing Grace", Colette Svanoe, soloist.
"Trust His Heart", RoseMarie Anderson, acc.
We weep as Jesus wept [Myrtle Svanoe said to me his cousin that Victor Svanoe "bawled like a baby" after his little brother died; I never witnessed Victor ever once shed a tear in the years I knew him, but I believe his mother implicitly, for I believe Victor loved his brother dearly and nothing on earth could hold back his tears at that time.
This same tearfulness was evidenced at my eldest brother's funeral in 2011, when a pastor who had helped Darrell at his church many times with free use of the church telephone so he could call his aged mother for morning prayers and devotions every day, wept in front of the people.--Ed.].
We mourn. But the Apostle Paul tells us that we are not to mourn as those who have no hope.
For in Christ the hope of eternal life is a reality. We know that what Paul says is true,
but there is sorrow in our hearts.
We know the promise, but we grieve at the loss. This expression of sympathy comes with love.
May God comfort you in His everlasting arms. May His peace fill you. May His promise of eternal life sustain you.
Time moves on. Move on in Christ's hope. Because Christ lives, we shall live also.
--From Funeral Brochure insert decorated with butterflies and Old Glory flags.
The fourth son and fifth child of William and Myrtle Svanoe [I too am the fourth son and fifth child in my own family--what chance was there in that?--and Luther and I were but four years apart!--Ed.], Luther Svanoe's defining moment was his decision at age 19 to accept military service in Viet Nam. Following brother Victor to Viet Nam was an act of free choice for Luther, since no family was expected to put more than one son at risk in that war [also this war was very unpopular, and many objectors went over the border to escape the draft at that very time, something he knew as an option for himself too; I personally knew two draft dodgers who did this, both from Minneapolis.--Ed.].
This decision not only contained the seeds of Luther's later life, his skills and interest in Mechanics, his bouts with alcohol and the probable cause of his death from the long term effects of Agent Orange, but it also reflected the almost casual way Luther seemed to accept risks.
In his teen years, Luther risked parental disapproval and even his juvenile record, in order to assemble for himself a peer support group in which he could exercise his natural leadership [he also was motivated by his esteem for friendship, for he kept his male friends and maintained relationships with them life-long. Please see the "Viewpoint" at the close of this page for an insight on Friendship.--Ed.].
The risk he took in going to Viet Nam was probably taken partly because among his buddies it was the thing to do. He later confessed that he was totally taken by surprise at the horrors of the war he ended up facing as a young recruit.
Asked recently what was the high point of his life, Luther responded, "My unit in Viet Nam." In spite of the life long negative fall-out from his experience of combat as helicopter crew leader, Luther's answer shows how his risk-taking brought him important rewards.
He took risks not only for himself but for the benefit of others. Troubled at the conduct of the war in View Nam, he protested to his commanding officer and was demoted for his trouble. He recently came to his sister Rachel's aid when her friends abandoned her due to legal risks that only he was willing to take. He came to the family reunion of his mother's family even though he surely must have felt something wrong with his health. [Mim his elder sister said she gave him many, many aspirins, which helped carry him through his increasing pain and remain at the Reunion; that apparently was the only medication he took, or maybe ever took.--Ed.]
Like his namesake father, Luther William was no complainer. When he lost out in the risks he took, he accepted the consequences with equanimity. When he knew his chance for recovery from cancer was negligible, he declined to be treated.
Less like his father, Luther was light-hearted about his risk taking. He perhaps learned from Viet Nam that not much matters anymore in view of the almost casual taking of life in the war [a casual view he did not share, for as it is related in Rennard Svanoe's "Funeral Message for Luther Svanoe," one time he spared a fleeing Vietnamese man's life when he was supposed to shoot him from the helicopter, but found he couldn't do it, indeed a very risky thing to do considering he was manning the copter's submachine gun and was supposed to "take out the enemy", which I heard a returned Viet Nam war officer describe contemptuously as no more than "little monkeys"--Ed]. This perspective made Luther freer than most of us to laught at himself and at life's absurdities.
Luther sought and received help in his last years for his alcoholism. He attributed his sobriety not to any treatment program but to prayer [his mother and father prayed for him, his grandparents Alfred and Bergit Stadem doubtlessly prayed, family members prayed, also his relatives no doubt, over the years the prayers were innumerable. Did he himself pray? God knows.--Ed.].
Although psychologically he still blocked [out] the names of buddies from the war, he was able to talk with his brothers and sisters in his characteristic honest and stark fashion about some of the horrors he experienced. He was fairly able to begin to turn his life in a more positive direction.
Luther received certification as a nursing assistant in long-term care in California. Although he was able to relate more easily to the ethical than the theological aspects of the Christian faith, Luther professed a living Christian faith in his last days and participate in the Lord's supper with family members at his bedside.
Luther was a good soldier both for his country and in life. He showed us how to accept risk in pursuit of higher goods in life, and to accept with resolution and calmness the down sides of life, including the reality of death.
Luther will continue to live in our hearts. Blessed be his memory.
It cannot cripple love,
It cannot shatter hope,
It cannot corrode faith,
It cannot eat away peace,
It cannot destroy confidence,
It cannot kill friendship,
It cannot silence courage,
It cannot invade the soul,
It cannot reduce eternal life,
It cannot quench the Spirit,
It cannot lessen the power of the resurrection.
--taken from Funeral Brochure Insert
"Of all people in America, adult, white, heterosexual men have the fewest friends. To be close friends, men need to be willing to confess their insecurities, be kind to others, have empathy, and sometimes sacrifice their own self-interest. 'Real Men,' though, are not supposed to do these things. They are supposed to be self-interested, competitive, non-emotional, strong (with no insecurities at all), and able to deal with their emotional problems without help. Being a good friend, then, as well as needing a good friend, is the equivalent of being girly. [But] people with friends are healthier. Friendship is strongly correlated with a more joyful life. Guys, it's time. Man up and make some friends."--Lisa Wade in Salon.com