John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”KJV
I was especially touched by the individual tokens left at different grave sites. One in particular brought a flood of tears to my eyes. A cup of coffee, two donuts, the sports page, and the crossword section. A shared breakfast between two friends. One living. One dead. Yet the bonds of whatever friendship they shared reached beyond the grave. In my writer’s imagination I vividly can see the friendship that brings this special ceremonial moment each and every year, even after the passing of one of them.
Up on the hill, a man sat in solitary vigil. He was obviously a military man, his demeanor tough, yet tender as he sat with his hand on the gravestone of a friend. A whiskey bottle in his hand, he sipped as he talked to the sky, toasting a friendship broken by war. He sat in the area of gravestones from the most recent of battles. Was it a brother, a friend, a father? My heart ached for his obvious grief. My mind began to flash through the pictures of friends I have lost, people I have known who gave their lives to protect my family.
This is a friend. MSG Kelly Hornbeck was killed in Iraq on January 18, 2004. His death rocked our world. He was the first person I knew personally to die in a war zone. Since then, we have attended far too many funerals and laid flowers on far too many graves. Yet he died doing exactly what he wanted to do. Protecting America was his gift to people he would never meet.
On this Veterans Day, remember that Christ Himself said that there was no greater love than what these brave men and women feel for us. They willingly lay their lives on the line every day. Every daily gift you enjoy while living in America is because they keep our country free to receive those gifts. When you raise your hands to God this weekend, please remember to thank Him for letting you live in a country that is protected by our military men and women, who care not who you are, what you believe in, where you live, or what you stand for. There are people all over this world who would do anything to enjoy even a portion of our freedoms. Don’t take freedom for granted. Thank a Veteran.