Sometimes “Thank You” seems inadequate

I never served in the military, but thousands of men and women before me did.  To them, I am forever grateful.  Today I served at a funeral at the Rock Island National Cemetery.  The Rock Island National Cemetery is on an island on the Mississippi River.  When you cross the bridge you are greeted with a security gate that always has at least two uniformed guards.  When they are told that you are there for service for a veteran or a veteran’s wife, they come out of the little kiosk, snap to attention and salute all the cars that drive by.

As we drove farther onto the island and then into the cemetery, anyone that we drove by stopped what they were doing and either gave a military salute or removed their hat and put their hand over their heart.  Today, the island was particularly busy.  Workers were all over the grounds preparing for Memorial Day.  Every one of them paused as we drove by.   I’ve done many services at national cemeteries before.  All of them are emotional.   Today though, was special.  Flags lined the streets, and little flags were planted in neat rows alongside the stone markers.

When kids in my parents’ generation were graduating high school, they were thinking about going to Vietnam.  When kids in my grandparents’ generation were graduating high school, they were thinking about going to Europe or Japan.  When I graduated high school, I was thinking about going to a party to try and meet a girl.

Today I thought of the people I went to high school with that served in the military.  They served for many reasons, and because they served, I didn’t have to.  I wish I could say thank you to all of them. Today as I looked out at the lines and lines of markers, I said a prayer of thanksgiving.  I thanked God for each of those markers, men, women, husbands, and wives that gave a part of their youth.  They put everything on the line so that I could worship, speak, read, raise a family, pursue happiness, work for justice, and grow old in safety.

Sometimes “thank you” just seems inadequate.

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Rock Island National Cemetery, May 25, 2012 (Photo by Robb McCoy)

4 Comments

Filed under Personal Reflection

4 responses to “Sometimes “Thank You” seems inadequate

  1. Pingback: Memorial Day | The Fat Pastor

  2. Pingback: Veterans’ Day | The Fat Pastor

  3. Victor C

    The dirge was played on drum and fife
    A colonial cabinet maker gave his life
    The land by escalating war was torn
    A child without a Father soon born

    A Kentucky farm boy left Daddy’s land
    To defend his young country from strife
    Old Hickory put a rifle in his hand
    On a field of battle he gave his life

    A mother says good bye to her sons
    They fight before the year is done
    On differing sides these men, brothers
    One dies leaving behind the other

    Sons of soldiers fought in another war
    With Teddy going up San Juan Hill
    Many vital young lives were no more
    A mother sat waiting quiet and still

    Many died in WW One and Two
    On land, the air, and under the sea
    Fighting across the big ocean blue
    Many families would never be

    There was fear dominos would fall
    To Korea and Vietnam came a call
    No more “when you wish upon a star”
    We died by thousands in lands too far

    Now we ask will our wars ever cease
    Thousands die to bring uneasy peace
    Mothers mourn their children lost
    Stop now and count the terrible cost

    Join with the mother that daily mourns
    Grieving for grandchildren never born
    Cry, tear at your clothes and loudly grieve
    Then the dead from war’s watch can be relieved

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