Monday, May 30, 2016

Thank you

Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness, I am not overcome by fear.
Because You are with me in those dark moments, near with Your protection and guidance, I am comforted.  (Psalm 23:4 VOICE)


If you have ever been to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., then you have probably had one of those moments looking out over the vast "sea" of white headstones in wonder at all the thousands of fallen who gave their life in the defense of the United States of America.  It is the only cemetery to actually hold men and women from each and every war fought by our country since the Revolutionary War and even some which have been re-interred from the War of 1812. You may not realize that section 27 actually contains civilians - slaves who worked the property in Freedman's Village - with their headstones simply reading "civilian" or "citizen" instead of listing their branch of military service. I have stood in awe, not over the memorial of JFK like some, but at the gravesides of young men, fathers, uncles, and even some women who gave their lives. 

The tours speak of the "notable" graves, but I tend to see those not mentioned on those tours. The mess cooks who did their best with the rations they were given to satisfy the hunger of soldiers in the thick of battle.  The nurses who bound up wounds and listened to the stories of home told by soldiers who would no longer walk, see, or hold their children in their arms again. The men and women who acted as leaders, some barely much older than high school graduates, given the charge of each life under their command. The mechanics who tinkered with engines, maintained generators, and held plane engines together with baling wire. The foot soldiers who hunkered down in cold and damp foxholes trying to drown out the sounds of battle so they could catch a few winks of sleep.  They may not be "notable" on the programs or tours, but they are in my book!

I've watched solemnly as the horse-drawn hearse made its way to the grave of the recently fallen, family and friends gathered, uniformed pall bearers executing each step of the service with precision and utmost decorum. It makes no matter if there is a 21-gun salute, or a simple graveside service, honoring the fallen is their mission.  If you stop long enough, listen close enough, read enough of those gravestones, and just linger under the shade of one of the mighty trees along the way, you will begin to notice something - these graves have been watered with the tears of much grief.  You will begin to sense the tremendous amount of loss our nation has endured in the defense of its freedom, but you will also sense the depth of loss each family suffered - those are the tears which watered these graves, my friends. Another thing you might notice is just how short that "dash" is between their date of birth and that of their death.  We may not know the exact time, but death is certain to us all - some taken way too soon. We may not understand all done on our behalf by those who have gone before, but we live as we do simply because they did what they did.  

Just a short pause today to honor those who have given their all in service to our country.  Rememberin....