My Prayer For You This Memorial Day

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Memorial Day is a day to remember those who have died in active military service. Every year at this time I find myself thinking of the men and women who have blessed our lives and the loved ones they left behind. Death has robbed us of family and friends, of battle-buddies and co-workers. But death has not won. It hasn’t stolen our spirit to press on, it hasn’t tainted our memories, and it has not stolen our hope.

In The Difference You Make: Changing Your World Through the Impact of Your Influence, Pat Williams points out that we all have influence. What we choose to do with that influence is what sets us apart from others. The impact we leave often goes unnoticed by us. In fact, I’d venture to say that the soldiers we are memorializing today did not know how deeply they impacted those of us still here.

Military families learn quickly the art of saying goodbye. It is one area that no matter how many times I practice I don’t get better. There is nothing graceful or pretty seeing a loved one off not knowing or knowing that this may be forever. Memorial Day is a day that we remember those we wish we could sit down to a meal with again, call up for a talk, and remember together the days we shared.

The majority of the time goodbyes are messy and painful. When my soldier left on his first deployment the farewell did not go well. We did not even make it to the busses. It being our first, I had no idea how long families were permitted to stay and dragged three children under the age of five to the long hot wait on asphalt. I did not want to leave his side, but a painful hour in my spouse looked at me and said, “You need to leave now.” He couldn’t drag it out any longer, and honestly, I couldn’t either.

It was the kind of pain that comes with not knowing what tomorrow brings. Dread and fear filled me. Our daughter, who was barely three, resisted. She grabbed every fence, column, car bumper, person, everything in arms reach and let out wails of grief. We did not leave one dry eye in our wake as I struggled with three crying children who couldn’t understand what was happening. Goodbyes can be ugly. It is never easy to let go.

War has taken so many of my husband’s friends. Yet it has not tainted the memories of the men and women it stole. Suicide has grabbed hold of friends and their families and left a sting. But as we watch the survivors and the ones who have been left behind, even those goodbyes have not robbed the living of hope. There is hope that this world can be better, in large part because of the impact of those who have already left, and there is hope that we will one day see them again.

As we grieve today for our comrades and loved ones who paid the ultimate sacrifice, my prayer for you this Memorial Day is that you find God’s grace even in the darkest places and find hope in your tomorrows.

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