Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8
Every Memorial Day I find myself sitting in front of a blank screen, struggling to write the words of my heart. For those of us who are in some way related to someone who serves in the Armed Forces, this weekend is a time of reflection for friends and family lost, for sacrifices made, for the realities of our “normal”.
I would love to say that I never had to rush to hold my son in my arms as he woke himself up screaming “please don’t die, please don’t die, please dear God don’t let him die” and then cry with him because his friend did die. In his arms.
I would love to say that I did not have to witness my daughters’ grief as they said goodbye to their spouse for the third, fifth, ninth time during yet another deployment.
I would love to say that I never had to visit the widow, the now fatherless child, the now childless parent for that long walk up the path to their door as slow comprehension dawned in their eyes about why we were there.
I would love to lie in bed beside a snoring spouse who was not fighting a nightly battle with an unseen enemy in their dreams over and over and over again, screaming for air support or a medic or more ammo.
But I can’t say any of those things. Because this is my “normal”. As it is for so many family members all over the world. Less than one percent of the population of the United States serves in the armed forces. Protecting our freedoms. Protecting our right to barbecue, go to the beach, attend church, go to school, and yes….protecting our right to disagree.
You may not know anyone at the cemeteries where heroes are buried. You may not know anyone whose child or spouse or family member has served. You may not know anything about the military at all other than what you have seen on the news or learned in school.
What you do know is that you are free because of these heroes. What you do know is that you owe them a debt you can never repay. What you do know is that you owe them the honor and respect of a grateful nation. Please don’t let this day go by without taking time to honor both the living and the dead heroes who watch over our nation each day from around the globe. They are all that stands between you and those who would take our freedom away.
I want to leave with you a letter written by a friend of mine to his parents as he deployed yet again. He did not make it home. But when the question was asked, he stepped up and said “Here am I. Send me.”
“DEAR MOM AND DAD: If ya’ll are reading this, then I am on my way to help do my part to ensure the future security of our great nation. I don’t take this charge lightly or with a cavalier attitude, rather with a resolute heart and a clear conscience. I am strongly convinced that what we are doing is just and worthy of all that could be spent in the effort. I am not afraid and neither should either of you be, for I trust in my God (Psalm 23) and my training, two powerful forces that cannot be fully measured.
My training is not only limited to that which has been bestowed on me by the mightiest military in the world but also by the greatest set of parents in the world. I am who I am because ya’ll made me that way, and for that I thank you.
If anything untoward should befall me please insure that the qualities you raised me with get passed onto my children. I love you both very much and intend to see you soon!
RIP Master Sgt. Kelly Hornbeck, Lcpl. Hunter Hogan, Lcpl. Eugene “Gino” Mills III, MSgt. Thomas Maholic, and all those who have died while serving our country. Thank you to all veterans, both past and present who will always be heroes to me.
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