In World War II, Dick Schneider served with the Signal Corps of the U.S. Army in France, Belgium, and Germany. During the Battle of the Bulge, he was in the Ardennes forest with a company that had only carbines for their defense.
By Bob Marrow
In World War II, Dick Schneider served with the Signal Corps of the U.S. Army in France, Belgium, and Germany. During the Battle of the Bulge, he was in the Ardennes forest with a company that had only carbines for their defense. German soldiers were infiltrating the Allied lines in uniforms taken from captured GI’s and the threat of being killed by snipers was constant and terrifying. In addition, German tanks were approaching their position and Dick’s group was sent out to face them. Fortunately, and just in the nick of time, a group of British tanks got to the German tanks before the Germans got to the Americans.
Earlier in the war, in the fall of 1944, Schneider was with the troops in Normandy. As he describes it in the introduction to “Stars and Stripes Forever, The History, Stories, and Memories of Our American Flag”, his battalion was stuck in a makeshift camp waiting for delayed radio equipment while battered by cold winds and torrential rain. The muddy ground was his bed with only blankets and flimsy shelter halves for protection. This damp, freezing misery was competing with boredom to make life unbearable when their sergeant asked Schneider to accompany him to headquarters.
After a jarring ride in an open-sided Jeep with mud splashing in their faces for hours, washed away only by pouring rain, the skies began to clear when they approached the headquarters encampment. For the first time since leaving New York harbor months before, an American flag waving from a tall flagpole came into his view. The sight of our flag brought images of home — his father flying the family flag at their house every morning, the grade-school classroom where he recited the Pledge of Allegiance, the Memorial Day parades in Oak Park, Illinois, where he grew up. In a single paragraph that demonstrates his eloquence, he wrote:
“In the billowing fabric of those Stars and Stripes I saw everyone from my life who had nurtured me in some way – relatives, neighbors, teachers, friends – all those people in whom I had placed my trust over the years. Now, in return, they were placing their trust in me and my fellow soldiers as we fought for freedom on foreign soil.”
If that were all there is to the story of Dick Schneider, it wouldn’t be much different from millions of other Americans. But he is far from ordinary. He is first and foremost a gifted writer whose life has been shaped by words, sentences, and paragraphs since 1947 when he began working for the Walgreen’s Company as publicity director. As Walgreen’s grew and the demands on him became more and more intense, he began to wonder, “Is this all there is?” One night, as he sat with his head slumped on his desk, the answer came to him from a voice deep within his spiritual being. “Perhaps, it was an answer from God,” he proferred.
Dick and his wife Betty were guided by that voice to Wainwright House, where he entered a writing contest in 1967 sponsored by Guideposts Magazine. His essay was one of 15 selected from 5,000 entries. While Guideposts is a faith-based organization, it is non-denominational and its publications accept submissions from authors of various faiths. This fit well with his intense spirituality, based on a powerful belief in God, but not necessarily on any organized religion purporting to know His will.
In 1969, after working for Walgreen’s for 20 years, Schneider decided to leave a successful career with a family company he loved because the spirit of Guideposts spoke to him. He began a new career editing and writing inspirational stories and essays. He rose to the position of Senior Staff Editor with Guideposts, writing stories and essays for more than 38 years while interviewing other contributors and editing their submissions. He is still a ‘roving editor’ for Guideposts. “It was the best job in the world,” he says with a smile. “I couldn’t have had more fun doing anything else.”
Oak Park’s and Walgreen’s’ loss was our great gain. Dick and Betty Schneider moved to Rye in 1980 and raised their two sons, Peter and Kit, here. Dick is a member of the United Methodist Church, which is sadly disbanding, and American Legion Post 128, from which he received the Americanism Award in 2007. He has been an active contributor to The Rye Record while writing more than 20 books for adults and children. Some of his most successful are: “Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect”; “Taps, Notes from a Nation’s Heart”; “I Dared to Call Him Father: The Miraculous Story of a Muslim Woman’s Encounter with God”; “The Blue Angel Ornament”; and “Freedom’s Holy Light” about the Statue of Liberty. He has also helped a number of celebrities with their personal stories, including General Colin Powell, Mike Wallace, Peter Jennings, and Wolf Blitzer. Articles Schneider wrote with Jimmy Stewart resulted in a long-lasting friendship.
Dick and Betty Schneider will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary December 30. For this still tall and elegant man, quietly eloquent in speech as he is in writing, the joy continues.