This weekend is Memorial Day…

It’s a time for remembering…and, perhaps, for wishing that we would never need to use this day for remembering those lost because of war.

I remember when we visited the Vietnam Wall a number of years ago. When that war broke out, it seemed so far away–until a friend of mine…whose parents had signed for him to enter the military because he was underage…was killed. Then it became personal. When we went to the wall, I found his name and traced it. It’s hard to think how Jimmy might have turned out–he is forever locked in memory at the age of 17.

Then it became even more personal, when my then-fiance (and now-husband) left for Vietnam right after we became engaged. He was in explosive ordnance disposal–dealing with disposing of booby traps of various types.

Years passed, and war seemed far away…until our oldest grandson entered the Marines. He was so proud… He went to Iraq for a year–and came back home…but not the way we wanted. He arrived back in the States in the fall…called us on Thanksgiving–and was excited about being home for Christmas. We knew he had not had a good experience in Iraq, but we could hardly wait to give him hugs.

Then two Marines came to our daughter’s house–on Jay’s 21st birthday. In trying to deal with his experiences in Iraq, he became one of the casualties. He didn’t die from a bullet, but he was also a war casualty, Tender-hearted young men–men who want to make a difference…but who find themselves in situations that require them to make choices they never thought they would… We need them!

And now his younger brother is in the Army. He’s served a stint in Afghanistan but is back in the States. His enlistment is up this fall, and he’s going to go into the Reserves.

I honor them this Memorial Day weekend–honor their willingness to respond to a call, even though I may not agree with their choice. But I hope and dream of a day when our children will no longer learn war…when we will learn to see each other as brothers and sisters…and find a way to live in God’s peace.

3 thoughts on “Remembering…

  1. Memorial Day Sonnet

    If Liberty means anything to me,
    I will remember what my freedom cost,
    By those who gave their all to keep me free,
    Whose lives were sacrificed, but never lost.
    I will remind myself of what they did,
    And keep them dearly cherished in my heart;
    Their honor never from me shall be hid
    And I will know they always did their part
    To save our nation and its people here,
    To pledge their lives in defense of our ways,
    To show that freedom always outlives fear,
    And sacrifice is hallowed all our days.
    If Liberty means anything to me,
    I will remember those who kept me free.

    © John Stuart 2008
    Pastor at Erin Presbyterian Church,
    Knoxville, Tennessee

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  2. Thank you for this vulnerability and this window into the fears and heartaches for loved ones, and the losses of these too young men. I will remember and honor them with you, and work for a day where these kinds of sacrifices will not visit another family.

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