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No greater love . . .

May 28, 2014

This past Monday, Memorial Day, was spent the way it typically is for our family – albeit in a different location.

This day is one we hold dear.

Normally our remembrances occur at the place where two special people (my father-in-law and our son) are laid. There the deer really do roam free as the geese and ducks fly overhead. It is a beautiful place where the wind whispers comfort to our hearts that creation knows our greatest sadness rests in her rich, dark soil.

On this day, our feet usually trod in the cold, dewy grass, before we journey through breath-taking, sun-dappled lands to a program and fellowship at VFW Hall (long ago also serving as the indoor basketball court) in almost forgotten North Dakota town.

Every year, we remember and we give thanks.

My heart always stirs driving by the cemeteries on what was erstwhile Decoration Day to espy a treed lane, green, yet bedecked in red, white, and blue splendor.   Out here in small town America, we do it up right – almost reverently.

memorial day

Old Glory waves exuberantly over the verdant grasses of the prairie as families make the somber pilgrimage to honor the lives of the ones held now only in their hearts.

For this day, we remember.

Silently and contemplatively, we remember our loved ones that have gone on to their eternal rest.

More so, we remember the sacrifices, a cost so high we dare not utter it aloud, made by others on our behalf.

Our usual sojourn for son delayed, we knew exactly the place he would want us to go this year.

Nothing hits a small town harder than the loss of one of their own children, our greatest legacy. When that loss is the result of a war, we can never erase the pain.

It is a sadness that lingers because it is a constant reminder at how precious life truly is. Our thoughts are cloaked by a thin veil of mourning; evoking such a strong soul response . . . our worst nightmares can and do come true.

For this day, we remember.

We want to shout to the heavens that we will not forget your sons and your daughters, but protocol is silence.

We were not alone as we walked silently up the car-lined dirt road to the cemetery on the prairie.

We went to honor a soldier our son revered. We are not alone; more people are in the cemetery than live in the nearby town. A grieving parent’s  greatest horror is that their child’s name will not be recalled.  Today is not that day.

The soldier’s parents are there. We hug them tight, whispering, “Your son will never be forgotten.”

They echo the same whisper to us.

For this day, we remember.

We remember that freedom has never been free, and we know that liberty come at a cost.

A stone surrounded by patriotic flowers and ribbons is our evidence.  One of our own paid that ultimate price.  He was taken much too soon.

For this day, we remember.

We remember gold star flags are bought at a thieves ransom, a price higher than anyone should ever have pay.

Tears overwhelm our wearied lids as we know that sometimes daddies, brothers, husbands, sons, cousins, wives, daughters, mothers and friends do not return.

For this day, we remember.

We grieve and yet simultaneously, we stand next to our own soldiers, quietly whispering prayers of thanksgiving – they made it home.

Later, we gather at park aptly named Liberty to hear the order of the day and reflect upon its meaning.

We watch as a generation of men and women, the ones who helped make this country great, lay wreaths, humbly recollect the stories of the lost, and cry tears for friends and loved ones that didn’t make it home.

We realize that this generation, remembering all who have taken up the America’s call, is aging before our eyes.  Will this continue without them?

For this day, we remember.

We remember that those who are serving today work in conditions far worse than this drizzling rain, and we stand, wet, as if our small sacrifice honors what they do every day.

Watching them in their starched white and black American Legion attire, we know the salute is coming, and yet, collectively the entire crowd of souls jumps after the explosive first round fires away.

My children don’t know a world where this is a day of celebration.

For this, we are proud they don’t because for this day, we remember.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 





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