Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day - Rememberance, Honor, Gratitude

This year, like almost every other year, my wife, mother-in-law, and whoever is still living at home (in this case Sam), and I travel to Nephi and Levan to visit the resting place of several ancestors on my wife's side of the family. My wife's father passed away suddenly a few years back and it is always a day of reflection as to how our lives might be different if he were still with us, especially for his grandson Sam. But, more importantly we have the opportunity to reflect on how he has had an everlasting impact on our lives even though he is not with us in mortality any longer. I asked my wife about what song she would like to hear him sing... his voice was one of his legacies, she didn't hesitate to respond "How Great Thou Art". A reminder that for this brief moment in mortality that we experience, we have the hope of our Savior who prepares the way for us to be together with our families and our Heavenly Father once again.

My father-in-law was a veteran of World War II. He spent time in Europe fighting for man's right to live free. The cemetery in Levan has a beautiful monument to those from that community that made the ultimate sacrifice. It was remarkable how many, literally dozens, from this small community, lost their lives on the battlefields of war.

I am always amazed and humbled by the men and women who are willing to lay down their life for another in the service of our country, our flag, our families, our beliefs. We know of others who will take their own life and the life of others for their beliefs, however misguided. The difference in my mind is that as Americans we give our life for others in these conflicts... we are givers not takers by tradition, by heritage, and by the very design of our American way of life.

My friend Stan Lockhart reminded me of a wonderful Ronald Reagan quote in speaking of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Ronald Reagan said, “It is, in a way, an odd thing to honor those who died in defense of our country, in defense of us, in wars far away. The imagination plays a trick. We see these soldiers in our mind as old and wise. We see them as something like the Founding Fathers, grave and gray haired. But most of them were boys when they died, and they gave up two lives- the one they were living and the one they would have lived. When they died, they gave up their chance to be husbands and fathers and grandfathers. They gave up their chance to be revered old men. They gave up everything for our country, for us. And all we can do is remember.”

Additionally, I hope we remember and revere those who gave of themselves in the service of our country, the wounded of body, mind, and heart and those who come back whole but affected nevertheless by the horrors of battling evil and hatred. We must remember, revere, and be grateful for all who serve.

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