I remember . . .
Standing on the cemetery lawn with my fellow citizens during Memorial Day. We gathered to honor and mourn our military veterans who’d given the ultimate sacrifice– their lives.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
We’d each been given a red plastic Poppy to wear in remembrance. Gold Star moms and wives received corsages.
A guest speaker shared words from President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us . . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.”
Tears welled in my eyes as a seven-year-old boy helped his mom place a wreath on the War Memorial. They paused to gaze upon his father’s name now engraved in cold, black granite along with the names of other military veterans from our town who’d died in battle.
A twenty-one gun salute blasted the silence, followed by the somber notes of a bugler playing Taps. Then, the crowd gave an audible sigh as white doves were released from a cage and flew heavenward, a symbol of hope and peace.
After the ceremony, I walked between the graves of military veterans who’d survived the battlefields or served our country in peacetime. Each one who’d served had an American flag to mark the grave.
Row after row…their headstones were lined up like platoons awaiting inspection. Rank, name, military branch, and their years on earth now etched on flat, stone tablets instead of metal dog tags. Their lives summarized in epitaphs, their religious faith professed in symbols.
How could I not be touched or consider the cost of freedom?
But for every fallen hero or heroine, I particularly remember . . .
That seven year-old-boy who lost a father and will never hug him again. I remember the youthful mom who became a widow in the prime of life. I think about their extended family and the heartache that goes on and on. And I’m struck once again by the harsh, sad reality . . .
Freedom has a price tag, but deceased veterans aren’t the only ones who sacrifice and pay the cost. Family members have to learn how to ‘carry on’ without their loved one.
So how can we remember and serve military families in a tangible way?
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14)
Here’s a website listing numerous military charities that offer a means of showing love and support.
Are you a wounded warrior or married to one? Have you lost a family member who died serving his/her country?
What helps you cope, or encourages your heart?