Monday, November 11, 2013
“Thank you, Veterans.”
Three small words which, on the surface, seem so insignificant.
Yet...the full measure of their meaning is incalculable.
There is a little inactive cemetery not far from my office. In fact, it is a good 3-wood shot from our church. Very, very few people know of the these final resting places as they drive past on the U.S. Highway. Still, there it is.
Tucked away, beneath the spreading branches of a tree and other brush, is an old, weathered marker.
This in and of itself is not unusual in old abandoned cemeteries. However, this simple stone is significant, for it marks the final resting place of an original American Veteran.
Beneath the sod of Ohio, far from his native New England, lie the remains of an American Revolutionary War vet. A man, not unlike so many others, who set his livelihood and personal aspirations aside to respond to the fledgling nation's call. We will never know what compelled this young man to take up arms against the English Crown. Was it a burning desire for self-governance?
Did he have a deep-seated disregard for monarchies? Was it purely economics, or did he yield to peer pressure?
What we do know is he joined his fortune, his abilities, and his future with so many others in ensure Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness not only for himself, but generations yet to come.
I watched as the Autumn leaves skittered about his headstone, now leaning rather precariously due to ravages of wind, rain, frost and time. Such an ignoble end for one who gave so much for so many he would never know.
Interestingly, the grave of his Grandson, a Civil War Veteran, lies approximately 50 feet to the south.
One man laid the foundation for our nation, the other sought to mend the rift within that foundation.
These two sites are representative of all the members of the American Armed Forces. They answered when called, performed their task admirably, and the fortunate ones returned to Life when it was all over. Sadly, others have returned, and continue to return, to a world in which they no longer fit. Unseen horrors, unheard voices, incomprehensible anxieties create deep-seated, unimaginable wounds. While unseen, these wounds are as real and painful as any caused by shot and shell.
It is today, a date proclaimed as an end to “the war to end all wars” we remember those who served, those who fell, and those still wounded. We pay puny homage to those who have protected us, preserved our liberties, and those who yet do so.
Interestingly enough, I do not know any Veterans who are boastful or full of swagger for having served. When thanked for their sacrifice; invariably they are humble, almost embarrassed and at a loss for words.
I know this may seem hollow. However, it is meant with the deepest of feelings:
Thank you all.
May God continue to bless you.
And, may God bless America.