Memorial Day 2017
Every year at the end of May, we as a nation come together to honor our fallen heroes. These are the men and women who have fought and died to protect our liberty, from the Revolutionary War to the current Global War on Terror.
They came from all kinds of backgrounds. They served in every capacity. Some were infantry, some were pilots. Some were chaplains, some were elite Special Operators. Some were single, some were married. Some even had children. Some were visibly soldiers, and some were in the shadows.
World War II
There is a fallen hero in my husband’s family. I wrote about him a couple years ago on Veterans Day. (Click here to read more.) His name was SGT Robert “Bob” Obradovich, and he was Mark’s great-uncle. I wish we had a chance to meet him, because he was truly a selfless person. He sacrificed his life on the battlefield in World War II, after the Battle of Fonte Hill on Guam, while trying to save the life of a wounded comrade.
Boot Remembrance Display
Last week, I had the chance to pay tribute to our fallen service members from the Global War on Terror. I assisted in setting up a boot memorial on our installation: over 6,000 combat boots representing military personnel who have died in the line of duty since 9/11. It was one of the most meaningful, emotional volunteer jobs I’ve ever performed. I was assigned the duty of clipping a photo to each boot. I probably clipped on several hundred photos. I tried to handle each one with reverence, and tried to give attention to each face. Each one had been someone’s son or daughter, mother or father, sister or brother, husband or wife, cousin, friend. It was hot and my thighs were sore afterwards from bending and kneeling….but it was a small price to pay compared to what all of them gave – which was everything. I would’ve stayed there all day if I could have.
Global War on Terror
At one point, I took a break so I could seek out a particular boot. I had to look up the Battle of Fallujah so I could remember when it took place. (The pictures were arranged by date.) I soon found the boot memorial for the son of a dear couple I knew from church back in Texas. I never got to meet CPT Sean Sims, but I feel like I did because I know his parents. His father is a retired Army Colonel. He fought in Vietnam, has a wife and four kids, and they absolutely loved the military life. Sean’s mother taught me that being a military wife is a beautiful thing. She always had genuine joy and said she had a harder time leaving the Army life than her husband did!
I wish that Sean could have made it to Colonel like his father. I can only imagine the heartbreak his parents had when they found out he had died. I knelt on one knee in front of his boot, and tears welled up in my eyes. I prayed for him and thoughts of his parents flooded my mind as well. It was such a solemn moment. I touched the boot as a gesture of thanks before I got up.
The pain of loss
I’ve wrestled with the reality that some people are taken from us, seemingly without reason. I had this conversation with my mom the other night. Most of the service members who were killed in action probably had at least one person praying for them. I know Sean did; his parents are devout Catholics. I am sure they prayed almost non-stop for their son. Yet he was still killed. It seems terribly unfair and I don’t think I’ll ever understand. It is such a high price to pay. In this way, Memorial Day is not just about those we’ve lost but also about the families left behind. I hope and pray that all of our KIA are at peace in Heaven. Yet the families here on earth still have to carry on with the burden of having their loved one suddenly taken from them. Speaking for myself, I mourn with you. I empathize with your pain. It can’t bring our heroes back, but I hope our Gold Star families know that many Americans stand with them, to hold them up if need be.
Honor our heroes
I encourage everyone to do something special to honor our heroes this Memorial Day. Please don’t thank a living service member. They don’t want to be thanked, because this isn’t their day. Memorial Day is about the deceased, the ones who gave it ALL. They wrote that blank check to the United States of America, and they were the ones called to pay the full price. As President Donald J. Trump said to the service members in Italy, his last stop on his first foreign trip:
There is no peace without those willing to bear the scars and wounds of war.
This includes those who have given their lives and the families left behind. Remember.