Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In Memory

The lone bugler stands away from the grave site, often beyond the family's view. The flag is respectfully removed from the top of the casket and folded in a tradition filled with symbolism. The command is given and the rifle volley echoes across the land. The bugler snaps to attention, brings the bugle to his lips and begins the slow, mournful tune of "Taps." The honor guard bends and presents the folded flag to the family and offers the thanks of a grateful nation for this: the supreme sacrifice. The last notes of "Taps" are lost in the wind as the family slowly leaves the graveside -- filled with emotion.

For those who have stood next to the flag-draped casket of a loved one killed in service, the sound of "Taps" serves as a poignant reminder of their fallen family member -- an individual who offered his or her all so others may live free. For those who have stood next to the graveside of family members who have died after returning home from service and now are being laid to rest with full military honors, the sound of "Taps" is just as haunting and memorable.

The powerfully expressive notes of "Taps" remind the family of the sacrifice and honor their son or daughter exhibited in behalf of a nation and its citizens. And in that tune's somber cadence is embodied the soldier's sacrifice, which is measured in so many ways: the sacrifice of time spent separated from loved ones, the horrors of unspeakable atrocities witnessed and forever etched on the mind, the injuries to the body and spirit -- some visible, most invisible.

This Memorial Day I will gaze on the framed tri-folded flag from my father's casket and voice a silent "thank you." I will thank him for many things. Chief among those will be his service to help ensure freedom for me and this country. In that service, he -- and the countless multitudes that have joined him in military service -- gave their families and all generations to follow a reason to say thanks and an example of valor to live by.

Our country was forged by the heat of battle and paid for by the blood of its combatants. On this important fact we cannot let down our guard, for there will always be those who would claim for themselves what is not theirs. To this day, our nation sends warriors to stand in the path of those who would strip us of our freedoms, our liberties and our way of life. I will always say "thank you" to those who have served and those who will follow. I pray that God would keep each one safe, so they may return to their families, their loved ones, and reap the benefits they have so valiantly fought for.

In memory of those who have served and died I will always rise to attention and place my hand over my heart as the flag of our nation is carried past me. In honor of those who still serve I will rise and sing, "The National Anthem," always thankful that we have this nation. In memory of those who have served and are now departed I will honor them with my words and deeds.

Memorial Day ~ a time to remember, a time to be thankful, and a time to count the cost of the days ahead.

1 comment :

Doug McCulloch said...

Amen to that. after recently watching 130 (one of them a good friend of mine) men board buses heading out for deployment, I have a new found appreciation for these guys. The best way to sum it up was in the words of my daughter who stood there crying. When I asked her why she was crying she said, "I finally get why we say thank you to the soldiers."