If only I could honor your memory in the way you so deserve. To open up my very being and reveal to you the thankfulness I have for you, for your sacrifices.
I’m struggling with this.
For only a few moments–if I could only listen to your humble, your strength, your courage. The times you were most afraid. Your nightmares. And your times of scared valor. I would cling on to your every word as you shared how you cherished brotherhood, sisterhood. And the joy of letters from home. Did you have a favorite letter? Would you share your thoughts concerning your love and pride for our country? Your love of family and God?
There’s so much I want to hear from your voice, your heart–but in turn there is so much I want to say. I have seen the tears on worn Veterans’ faces with remembrances of you. I have seen Old Glory mourning at half-staff, swaying gently. For you. And I have felt the rough edges of stone as my fingers traced your grave marker.
How is it I say thank you for your service and the freedom you fought so hard for, sacrificed–the freedom myself and so many others take for granted. How is it I honor you? Thank you–it’s not enough. No.
And how is it I erase that one Monday morning when my friend in the fifth grade didn’t come to school and our teacher was quiet. And we ask, where is Mary and she replied, ‘Mary had a death in her family. Her sister’s husband was in Vietnam and I know this is hard to understand, but he was killed while serving as an American soldier.’
An American soldier. He died while serving. For his country. For us. And me and my other friend–we cried that day for Mary and her family.
I’ve read the history books. So many of your stories. And I have shed tears as I read about war, combat–your circumstances, the loneliness, the wounds, the prayers prayed as gunfire had you surrounded. I’ve read about the military nurses’ blood stained hands and clothes, the ‘Dear John’ letters. And I have read of the slow death, captured–a prisoner of war.
This morning I heard the voices in church service, the Sunday before Memorial Day. Those who stood during our special service and one by one they honored you and your memory.
‘My Grandma lost two brothers in WWII’, our pastor said.
And another with his Memorial Day poppies pinned to his shirt, ‘I lost my brother-in-law in Vietnam.’
And another. The man who stood with a trembling voice and said, ‘I lost my brother in Vietnam on February 14.’
February 14. Valentine’s Day.
Time passes and we remember. But the hurt still remains. Raw, as it was on that horrid news day.
So maybe to honor you best is to simply never forget. To serve the others left behind. Your families, other Veterans–your brotherhood and sisterhood. And the soldiers who are currently serving for our great country and their families.
Your honor is their honor. And for your honor we will love in deed and word, show our gratitude of thanks to those still with us. Care for the hurting and wounded warriors, asking God daily for protection over those serving and for their families back home, never forgetting the endless sacrifices. And never, not for one moment take for granted the blessings of freedom.
For your honor. We honor you by honoring them.
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. Philippians 1:3. (KJV)