Today is Memorial Day, a holiday celebrated as a kick-off to summer with out of town trips, cook outs--all things American. Unless families have experienced the loss of a loved one in war, we seldom remember the real reason for the day. It is a day of remembering, a day of saying "thank you" to all of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for his/her country. What would our lives be like if those sacrifices had not been made? How free would we be? Military service has always been important to me. My mother's only brother was career army, served thirty two years and proudly displayed four purple hearts on the shelf in his den. He didn't make the ultimate sacrifice, but he did give the best years of his life for his country. Today I honor him and his family who loved and supported him during his active service.
Other young men and women postponed education, career or the start of their families so that they could serve. That, too, was sacrifice. They came home, but some came with scars that can never be erased, scars that are physical, mental or emotional--or all three. Some of the scars are visible, some are not, present just the same. These men and women need to be remembered. They, too, need to be honored.
My brother in law, David, served over twenty years as an army doctor. He never saw combat, but the service he rendered was invaluable. He represents all of those who labor in support capacities that keep our troops well and fit for service.
Tom and I were fortunate. He spent the last year of his army service in Vietnam serving as an artillery liasion officer to the infantry. There were some close calls. During those days that he was away Lamentations 3:22, 23 were verses that stayed in my mind. "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed. They are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness!" Tom came home. To think the "what ifs" of my life without him is like entering the dark, scary places of unknown caves or getting too close to the edge of a cliff. My mind just can't go there.
Today I honor my husband, one who came home, but one who also served so that we all can enjoy the freedoms we have.
Thank a service person today. Thank God for that person. Thank God for our freedom.
Remember the families of those who have died and pray for the safety of our troops. I am reminded of the words of a hymn I learned in college: "O God of love, O King of peace, make wars throughout the world to cease." May this be our constant prayer.