Over the past few weeks I’ve been getting my fair share of emails from family and friends that are in the service all reminding me to remember the real reason for the holiday. I’ve gotten everything from military histories to heart warming prayers for soldiers. It’s a very important holiday to say the least. Especially now since we are currently in two wars and a natural disaster that have troops deployed. Not to mention the men and women deployed within our country and throughout the world.
There is one particularly popular photo that I’ve received the most over the past few weeks. That being of the old veteran at the parade that’s standing for the flags that go through during a parade. What’s interesting is that he’s the only one on the block that’s standing. What’s even more interesting is that he’s also standing up from a wheel chair.
Now I’m not writing this to be a heavy-handed attempt to coerce anyone into uber-patriotism. But rather I’m writing to remember those men and women that have sacrificed themselves for the sake of our freedom. To each and every one of them, regardless of how you feel about our current international conflicts, deserve a warm handshake and a heart felt thank you at the very least.
But what’s even more striking in this season is the dark state that some veterans come back in. There are many soldiers that go to war and never seem to come home psychologically. I went to college with a US Army sniper that was deployed with a Marine Recon unit in Afghanistan. He told stories of when he came home he’d have nightmares where he’d physically react. One evening his wife had to strike him in the head with her fist to wake him up because he had her in a headlock.
But there are others that never seem to adjust back into “normal” life. This story here is an example of this sort of case. This happened in the small town that my brother and his wife live in. It’s a town with no more than 300 people in it. Apparently the man who had built the pipe bombs was a real nice man. He had gone away to fight in Desert Storm in the 90’s and when he returned he was just “off”. Did something happen over there that scarred him? If he never had gone to war, would he still have felt the need to build these bombs? I’m not sure. I have to think that it had something to do with it.
One of the podcasts that I listen to somewhat regularly is the Ransomed Heart podcast by John Eldredge. The past couple podcasts he has interviewed a guy that does soldier counseling. I don’t remember all the specifics because I was working on something while I was listening to it. But basically what he does is he brings in the soldiers that are the worst off, men and women that are on the verge of suicide because of what they’ve had to do or witness during the war. They counsel them back into functioning by teaching them how to forgive again. They teach them not only to forgive their enemies, but also the bigger hurdle of forgiving themselves. These are men and women that have been on multiple tours and have lost the will to fight and protect themselves and brothers in arms, and the hinge issue that they’re dealing with is forgiveness.
So this Memorial Day, remember the men and women that are putting their lives on the line. These are the men and women that are willing to go into the horrors of horrors in this world and confront it face to face. These are the men that are in the most popular war movies, in the muck, the hamburger grinder, and fighting their way through it. Remember that the men and women overseas have families at home. And remember, a smile, a hug, and a “thank you” go a long way in the lives of people living in the hell we call war.