May 30, 2010

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A Memorial Day Penance

I ran to Walgreen’s at lunch. I needed some medication—maybe for a cold? I don’t remember for sure.  While I was there, I picked up a Muscle Milk and a protein bar so I wouldn’t have to make another stop.  I had only about 20 minutes to complete the circuit before my next meeting.

Returning to work, I hit a traffic jam in an unusual place.  The outer road was backed up—something I’d never seen before.  I was furious as I crept along in the sea of of tail lights.

As I came to the top of a hill, I could see the cause of the hold-up. Numerous police cars and fire engines lined a bridge across I-44.

I felt bad for having been angry, realizing there was probably a fatality or very serious injury up ahead.

As I got closer, though, I realized that there was no accident.  There were dozens of big motorcycles lining the bridge, along with the police officers and firemen. And there were many American flags. And men and women in uniform.  It looked like a backward parade in which the marchers lined the streets and the people marched.

And that’s sort of what it was.

Beneath the bridge, the remains of an American hero would soon pass. He was on his way to his home in Franklin County, Missouri, where he would be put to rest with a hero’s tribute.

To his family, though, “hero” seems strange.  Yes, he’s a hero, but he’s far more than that. He was a child who learned to ride a bicycle –only yesterday, it seems.  He was a kid who would forget to do his homework now and then, who had to be reminded to wash his hands and say his prayers.

He was a human being who stepped up to perform super-human things. He gave his own life for his family, his friends, his high school sweethearts, his town, and his country.

For my anger, I gave myself a penance of writing, one day, about my own selfishness.  I hope that Marine will forgive me.

On this Memorial Day, God you bless those who died that our nation might live, and those who sent heroes into harms way on our behalf.  Neither this post nor any token can begin to repay the debt you’re owed. Only God can make you whole.