Saturday, May 28, 2011

Thoughts of My Hero on Memorial Day

Today I had the honor and privilege to participate in the community wide Memorial Service at the Elmwood Cemetery. I sat with the distinguished leaders of our community, surrounded by veterans of several wars, wondering why I was there. As one lady sang which touched my soul, surrounded by tombstones, I realized why God had placed me in the place. It was because of my hero reserved my seat for me.

My hero like all children is my father. It was because at the age of seventeen, my father went to his high school counselor, asked to take his GED early, and convinced his parents to sign, so he could join the Navy. He joined the Navy during the height of WWII. He was quickly taken from a small town in Tennessee to an aircraft carrier. My hero served aboard the USS Franklin. On a mission just thirty miles off the coast of Japan, my father/hero’s ship loaded with planes and bombs was attached by Japan’s bomber planes. Franklin lay dead in the water, took a 13° starboard list, lost all radio communications, and broiled under the heat from enveloping fires. Many of the crew was blown overboard, driven off by fire, killed or wounded, but the hundreds of officers and enlisted that voluntarily remained saved their ship. The casualties totaled 724 killed and 265 wounded, and would have far exceeded this number, but for the work of many survivors. My father , my hero was one of them.

My father never talked about his time during the war, he just did it. It would not be until after his death as I discovered his military metals stashed away in his drawer, would I truly know what a hero he was. Not just to me but too many others. He suffered the rest of his life with the emotional and psychological scars all kept hidden. There were brief moments, if you looked closely, those scars were revealed. He did it not for glory, recognition, or praise. He just showed up and did it. He did it for the love of his country and for the freedom of his many generations to come.

So my place this Memorial Day is from one who never had to go to war, but whose seat was reserved by his hero/ father. My place was to speak loudly a word of thanks, to express my gratitude for all who have served their country, who have fought for freedom, who have sacrificed for peace. I, like many, get frustrated and agitated at the decisions, polices, and laws our country leaders impose on us. I live daily with the reality of all the wrongs, problems, and ills that face our nation. I pray daily for the time when there is peace and our world is more like it will be in heaven but until then I must say, “Thank You.” Thank you for those who gave their life so I can have the freedom to complain, grip, and whine.

Memorial Day is the time I remember and say thank you to my hero for his service. Thank you for my father in law who was in Vietnam serving and missed the birth of my wife, his daughter. I say thank you for my brother in law who put his self in arms ways to serve also. I say thank you to my fellow classmate, youth from our youth group, and all others who have sacrificed for the benefits I enjoy today. While there will always be war, we should always give our warriors our respect, honor, and gratitude. Because on Memorial Day, we should all just do it.

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