Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Today I Remember: Yesterday Was Memorial Day

Yesterday was Memorial Day. Yesterday; and today I thought of it. This may be one of those posts that leaves me looking a lot less spiritual than I really am, and a little more real than you (or I) would like me to be. But, the fact remains: it is what it is.

Yesterday was Memorial Day, and as mentioned above, I finally thought of it today. Sure, I looked forward to the extra day off in the week which provided more time to be with my wife. I was thankful that our favorite coffee shop was open until noon so that we could spend the morning hours with java to sip and talk satisfaction in Christ. I was thankful that our granny saved us some ribs and corn on the cob for us to indulge ourselves in. I was even thankful that Movie Gallery was still offering free rentals that extended through Monday (due back by Saturday) and Kimberly had capitalized on that “free”dom every day this weekend (which is an oddity in itself). However, it was not until the night hours that the thought even came to me that this day, Memorial Day, was not so much about me, but about those who died for me.

Over lunch we discussed the various wars of times past: WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and even the Iraq War and how it relates to a possible conflict with Iran. However, each of these were in context with my grandfather’s service in the Korean War, but not necessarily tied to “War” in the truest sense of the word. We discussed how many of his five brothers were called to service, his thoughts on the draft, and eventually ended up with the social security and the casinos. We always end up with the casinos. But the thoughts of men who gave their lives for the freedom of America, men who died to protect the families that they loved, or men who died in order to advance the gospel never entered into my mind. I wish this were not true, but I would not share it if it were not.

So, after my uneventful afternoon lazily being entertained by a World War II era movie (even now, this is the first time that I even thought to link this movie with the significance of the day!) and a great lunch, thoughts of service men and women who have given their lives for my freedom had not caught my attention. Then last night, I stumbled upon a documentary featuring the men who fought at Iwo Jima towards the end of WWII. The men featured in this documentary were real men; real men who loved Jesus and loved their families. They did not enter into their country’s service merely because they were drafted (though some of them were) or merely because this was something that the government told them they had to do (though this was true as well). Rather, many of these men who were featured went to Iwo Jima in an effort to defend their families. They went to Iwo Jima not to spread democracy, but to prevent the spread of an atheistic mentality to sweep across the Pacific and infiltrate their living rooms. They fought (and many of them died) after thirty-six agonizing days in brutal conditions of which I know nothing about. Many left wives and children at home. Some returned, more did not. Boys left fatherless, women without husbands; the war knew no favor. Brothers lost brothers, fathers said goodbye to their sons. Those days on Iwo Jima before the infamous raising of the American Flag have been lost to much of history and only remains in the minds of a select few. I can’t say that I have forgotten, to a certain extent, I never knew.

This documentary was incredible and with commentary on what it meant then and what it means now to be a father passionate about the gospel was moving. I did not see it until the end, but it gripped me from the beginning. There were men who returned to Iwo Jima for the sixtieth anniversary of the battle, many in wheelchairs, more with canes, all with heavy hearts. This little film helped put into perspective that these were real men, fighting in a real war, with real bullets, and real death. That meant that there were real boys and real girls who lost their fathers forever.

From the website:

"More than 406,000 Americans died during the Second World War, leaving an estimated 183,000 children fatherless. Hundreds of thousands of other fathers did return from war, some who tragically never connected with their children. But within the ranks of the survivors and the heroic dead were a remarkable collection of men who made it a life mission to speak the providences of God and the meaning of manhood to the boys who would fill their shoes. Through wartime letters and present-day pilgrimages to the bloody battlefields of their youth, the ancient warriors have spoken. Their thankful children rise to honor and surpass their legacy. They are “The League of Grateful Sons.""
I have never suffered a day in my life; the least I could do was give honor to their memory. Forgive me for forgetting.

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