‘Come, gaze, fix your eyes on what the Eternal can do. Amazing, He has worked desolation here on this battlefield, earth. God can stop wars anywhere in the world. He can make scrap of all weapons: snap bows, shatter spears, and burn shields. “Be still, be calm, see, and understand I am the True God”‘ –Psalm 46:8-10.
Having lived the military life for most of our marriage, we have seen our share of people and families who ‘paid the ultimate price.’ I think on a few of them during Memorial Day weekend.
Bob, and a couple of others, introduced Jud to Jesus and discipled him during his Air Force Academy days. Jud asked him to be his best man at our wedding; but Bob had commitments overseas and couldn’t make it. Shortly after we married, we got word that Bob had the honor of going to Red Flag (an elite air-to-air combat training). His plane hit a ridge on a blind turn. His funeral introduced me to the reality of military service. Seeing the folding of our nation’s flag that had rested on his coffin in slow-motion tenderness and honor by other Air Force men took my breath away and reduced me to sobbing. I prayed for his girlfriend for years, knowing from Jud that Bob would have probably proposed to her had he lived.
Mark, the son of a general, married his Air Force Academy sweetheart right after graduation. Both he and his wife graduated with Jud. I got to meet them in Germany when we all attended the same home fellowship for church. His wife and I forged a friendship while our children played at parks or in our homes together. We prayed for her and through her house when Mark was away on a mission and she had some odd happenings. We found that in countries with long histories and longer memories, many odd occurrences disrupted daily routines. Sometimes I think the liminal space between earthly and spiritual realms is thinner in places like that. When they moved to Italy and we to Alabama, all of us had hopes of the future! When I got the phone call from another friend that Mark’s plane had gone down in a fireball over the Adriatic Sea, I prayed through my sobbing that God would send a miracle and allow Mark to actually live. When no miracle came, I mourned with his widow and children.
We know others who didn’t physically die, but have emotionally and mentally paid the highest price. My cousin who fought in Vietnam and kept the nightmares and horrors to himself with more prescriptions and pill bottles than my mom had ever seen, until he couldn’t keep his demons at bay any longer and eventually took his life. Others who suffer from PTSD, amputated limbs, memories of comrades who died, and prayed for death themselves. I think of my grandfather who fought in WWI. He lived through the war; but he was gassed in the trenches and developed stomach cancer when he returned home. He died when my father was a child.
I don’t want this post to make anyone depressed; but I do hope you will take a sober moment this weekend as we bar-b-que and enjoy camping, time with family or great shopping deals to remember the price paid by many in the military and their families for our county’s freedom and standing in our world.
Pray for them. Ask God to lead you to families who have lost through death or damage husbands/wives/fathers/mothers and offer your service to them in yard work, childcare or just a listening ear of friendship.
Pray for our world. Ask God to raise up nation leaders who will commit to diplomacy and broader thinking than their own selfish desires.
Pray that we will figure out a way to live peacefully with others and we won’t have to remember new names on the white headstones in the national cemeteries in the coming years.
I’d love to hear from you!! Who do you remember on Memorial Day?