Monday, May 26, 2014

The Ultimate Price

We've enjoyed a nice, relaxing Memorial Day weekend with family and friends and while we went about our activities, ate good food, and enjoyed an extra day off, I tried to mix in some gentle reminders about what the weekend is really about.  I can barely grasp the enormity of the suffering and sacrifice of soldiers throughout our nation's history, so I can imagine how difficult it is for my kids to be able to comprehend the amount of blood that has been shed to bring us to where we are today. 

I showed the kids the pictures of their great-grandfather during his military service.  I read the written account of his whereabouts and his experiences in war.  My Granddaddy was 27 years old when he was called to serve in World War 2.  He and my grandmother had just had their first child, my mother, and she was only 2 months old when he left.  He served in the Army in France, Germany, and Austria and worked in the area of communication/telephones.
MSG Carrol Campbell
 
During his time served, he saw many things.  His 36th infantry division liberated a concentration camp.  He also saw a train load of Holocaust victims' bodies stacked like wood.....those who weren't so lucky.  My grandfather didn't die in the line of duty.  Even though he missed the first four years of his daughter's life, he did return.....unlike the soldier he came up on one day, who'd tied a tourniquet around his leg in vain, as he bled out holding a picture of his wife and child. 

We spent a good part of today with my in-laws.  My father-in-law and my niece's husband are both Air Force men.  We all sat on the back porch enjoying homemade ice cream and I asked the two soldiers among us, one retired and one active, to tell us about any soldiers, who they knew that didn't come home.

My niece's husband, Vaughn, served in Bahrain in Operation Enduring Freedom and in Basra in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He was deployed for the second time as a newlywed and told us of instances of soldiers being killed while out on patrol and from accidents. 

  MAJ Vaughn Threatt and CMSgt Loyd Miller, Retired
 
My father-in-law, served in Saudi Arabia during the Korean War and also in the Vietnam War.  He recounted rockets as a daily occurrence and death being all around.  One story that stood out in particular was about a young soldier mortally injured while processing out.  He was just hours before boarding a plane to return to his family when a rocket hit the area and he was hit by shrapnel.  As the dying soldier was being tended to, he was heard crying out that he didn't want to die.....he wanted to go home.

On the way home today, we stopped by a cemetery nearby.  The cemetery houses a large amount of Confederate graves and was also sprinkled with flags that waved by the graves of veterans of other wars.  The individual Confederate graves were each marked "Unknown" with a large stone bearing the names of all the soldiers buried there.  There were records to show who was there, but no way to identify one from the other. 
 
  
Across the years, our bravest have answered their country's call to serve.  Some voluntarily.  Some drafted.  Some still teenagers.  Some considered to be old in their day.  Some returned unscathed.  Some bore scars of their service.  Some scars could be seen.  Some scars could not.  Some returned in coffins.  Some...we just don't know.       

For the soldier who died in the rice paddy of Vietnam, the beet field of France, the beaches of Normandy, the hills of Gettysburg, the waters of the Coral Sea, the desert sands of Iraq, the foxholes of Germany, and all of the other countless, lonely places far, far from home....we remember what you did. 

For the families who received the news.  For those who never got closure.  For families who loved those who were never found.  For the children without a father.  For the widow all alone.  For the parents who grieved themselves to death.  We acknowledge what you sacrificed. 

In our modern lives filled with comforts, conveniences, and ease that most of these soldiers could never have even dreamed of, may we not forget to teach our children that the lives they now enjoy did not come without great cost.  For some....they paid all they had for those who would come along behind them.  May we never stop teaching our children what a blessing it is to be an American.  Let us pass along the respect that our flag deserves.  Let us teach them to show honor to our vets.  Let us demonstrate reverence at the sound of our anthem.  Let us teach them all we can about where they came from.  Let us teach them the responsibilities of a good citizen.  May we never become a nation who is unmoved by our past.  May we never get too comfortable to remember who got us here.  

I never want my children to lose the chill when seeing their flag unfurl.  It represents the patriotism of the soldier, who died in Germany while holding a picture of the ones he longed to see.  It represents the bravery of the soldier, who survived years of war in Vietnam only to die a few hours before coming home to those he loved. 

It represents who we are.  It represents where we came from.  It represents the gifts we've been given.  It represents the great responsibility that comes with those gifts. 

May we never forget those who did their part.  May we never fail to do ours. 

Thank you, God, for blessing our nation. 



 
 

     

 



 


      

7 comments:

  1. Amen! Well written--just beautiful!

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  2. So beautifully written! Thank you!

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  3. I agree--so beautifully written!

    By the way, am I the only one experiencing a problem scrolling through your post and having portions of it being displayed twice? It has happened in the past 3 or 4 posts. I read several other blogs and yours is the only one with this problem! :(

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    1. Thanks, jeejee....and I will look into that for sure!!

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