NOTE: For a good many years now I have been one of the teachers of the Encouragers Sunday School Class at Trinity Baptist Church in Seneca, SC. I generally teach the first Sunday of the month, but sometimes swap Sundays with another teacher as our schedules dictate. I taught on May 29, 2011, which was in the midst of the Memorial Day weekend. Here were my thoughts then on Memorial Day.
“Before I get into today’s lesson, please allow me to share some personal thoughts and reflections on Memorial Day. In Washington, DC, there is a long V-shaped polished black granite wall. Engraved on that wall are the names of over 58,000 men and women. I share a personal common bond with the people whose names are on that wall. One thing that we have in common is that we all served in the Vietnam War. There are other things that we do not have in common.
You see, the people whose names are on that wall are all dead. I am still alive.
The names are on that wall because those people were killed in the line of duty while doing what their country asked of them. I did what my country asked, but I was not killed. My name, because of the Grace of God, is not on that wall. My name could have easily been there, but it is not, and it never will be.
It is a very humbling experience to contemplate how things would have been different if my name had been engraved on that wall. Karen and I had been married 9 months when I shipped out to Vietnam to serve in the Americal Division of the United States Army. If my name was on that wall Karen would have been a 23 or 24-year-old widow. There would be no daughter Christy and therefore no Baptist minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There would be no son-in-law Shane in my family. There would be no granddaughter Paige and no grandson Reid. There would be no son Jason and therefore no Certified Public Accountant with Ernst & Young. There would be no daughter-in-law Becca in my family. There would be no grandson Jack, nor an expected new arrival in December, 2016.
But, because of the Grace of God, things for us are the way they are. My parents did not have to grieve the loss of their only child in a far-away country. Karen did not have to grieve the loss of her still-young husband in their very young marriage.
That wall in Washington that has over 58,000 names on it represents far more than just dead people. Think of the impacts their deaths had; grieving spouses, parents, siblings, children, former employers, co-workers. Then think of the shattered dreams. I can hardly imagine the far-reaching impact. Think about it. War is still happening as I speak. Pray that it will end soon.
Just as the true meaning of Christmas gets lost with Santa Claus and commercialism, just as the true meaning of Easter gets lost with the Easter Bunny and the latest fashions, the true meaning of Memorial Day gets lost in a 3 or 4-day weekend that friends and families celebrate with cook-outs and recreation. In the midst of our fun-filled days let’s pause to remember all the people killed in the line of duty for their country. Let’s remember the family members and friends. Let’s thank God for the freedoms we enjoy and regretfully take for granted.