Monday, May 31, 2010

In Memory...

I have started and stopped this post in my head so many times and I still can't get it right. Every time Memorial Day comes around it takes me back a few years. We always go to the Memorial Day parade and that year was no different. While we were there I had the passing thought that I should call my Grandpa afterwards and thank him for his service during WW2.

But I didn't.

I got busy and forgot.

A few days later, my phone rang. It was my mom telling me that my Grandpa had gone to be with Jesus. His funeral was a few days later and he was given a beautiful tribute from the military, complete with a flag given to one of his sons. My cousin, Jim, was there that day. He had done a stint in the military but had just signed up again to go to Iraq. It was the last time I would see him.

A few months later, he left for Iraq. Once he was there, his sister sent us his address and I began making plans for the Christmas box I would send. But I never got the opportunity.

Thanksgiving dinner had ended and all had gone home when my phone rang again. My cousin had been killed that day in Iraq and had gone home to be with Jesus. He left a young wife and two beautiful children, 11 and 9.

I was standing next to his father when the plane carrying Jim's flag-draped casket arrived. It was bitterly cold that day and the sun was setting as the tiny plane taxied across the tarmac. The airport was extremely small. It was an intimate gathering of our family and friends that day, standing beside the small building that housed the entire airport operations area.

I put my arm around my uncle as the door of the plane opened. As the casket of his son became visible, I felt him sag against me. I briefly wondered if I would be strong enough to hold him if he totally collapsed, but he continued to stand, somewhat supported by my arm. I could hear stifled sobs all around me and my own tears fell as well.

My sister and I had gone to the airport earlier in the day and decorated as best we could. There was a fence surrounding the runway and we used red and blue cups to spell out, "Welcome Home, Jim." We rigged up some American flags but they looked pitifully small and inadequate to be announcing the arrival of a hero.

I could continue here and tell you all about the amazing and touching outpouring of support that Jim's hometown showed. It was truly comforting. But I want to leave you with a plea to remember those who have fallen. Remember the sacrifice of their spouses, parents, and children. My cousin's young family has thankfully, done well. God has taken care of them and they are moving on with their lives. But that does not remove the loss of their son, husband, and father. He will be forever missed.

There are others--maybe you know a family who has lost a hero. Maybe you do not. There are also those who come home but suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or have lost limbs. Please pray today for those who fight to keep us free and for families who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.


Susan said...

Thank-you for this reminder!! I was anxiously awaiting your Memorial Day post and am so appreciative of you sharing it with us.

Hugs to you and your family and prayers for all our servicemen and women, past and present.

Dawn said...

Thank you Karin, My oldest son just got back from his first tour of duty in Iraq... will be praying for your son. Freedom is not free...blessings

josette said...

so well said!!! as we said our prayer at dinner tonight, my husband, a former marine himself, said an extra thank you to the military, past, present and future!! thanks to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice!!!! please thank your son for us as well!!! our prayers are with them all!!!

Lori said...

Wow, what an incredibly touching reminder of how precious our freedom is because of the bravest of the brave giving their lives.

Thank you for sharing.

Meredith said...

We remember that day very well too and continue to pray for his family.
Thank you for writing this beautiful post and for reminding us that people do give their lives for us. It's an amazing thing! God bless them!

Ally said...

Karin you always have such a sweet way with words reminding us the "real" stuff. Thank you for reminding me of what others have given for my freedom.

Gretchen said...

Thank you for this post. We all need to be reminded how important the people who fight for us are. And this also speaks volumes on the fact that we should not neglect the relationships we have.

trustandobey said...

That was so well written! I am constantly telling the girls that our freedom is never free, that it cost some people everything!!! I hope and pray that "knowing" Ryan will help put a face on our military for them.
Keeping Ryan in our prayers!