Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fourth Thoughts

Like most Americans we spent the Fourth of July with friends and fireworks. As holidays are, feelings were ambivalent.

As we drove past a cemetery a row of tiny American flags caught my eye. A young woman apparently had decorated the grave of a loved one with them. She sat quietly and lost in her thoughts.

Around the corner we saw another American flag. This flag was flying proudly at a home flanked by large “Welcome Home Soldier” posters.

My thoughts wandered to several loved ones; Nephew Caleb on his second tour of combat duty, the life of Great Nephew Barry taken in Iraq. I thought of son in law Neil who still struggles with physical and emotional trauma from his tour of duty in Iraq. He grieves the loss of his fellow soldiers. The thought that we Americans forget or do not grieve for those who sacrificed so greatly for us, deepens his sense of loss.

I have made several attempts to discard mother in law Mary’s make up case. She carried it for years. It still smells of her Jean Nate; a sweet fragrance of her and the precious lady she was. Maybe when the fragrance fades I will let it go. I thought of father in law Neil’s Army uniform. He wore it proudly while serving his country in Europe. It was many years later that we discovered he had served with General Patton. Like many, he served his country with honor, quietly and bravely.

As we lay watching the thousands of lights from fireworks bursting through the sky, my thoughts again drifted to the countless, nameless and faceless many who sacrificed so greatly to give us nights like this. Like Mary’s fragrance, memories invoke varying emotions. Some memories bring tears of joy, some of pain, loss and sorrow.

Whenever we spot a service uniform, we make every effort to stop them, say thank you and shake their hands. The reactions touch your heart. Sadly, many are surprised, but always very thankful for expressions of appreciation. Lord help us to always remember, however bittersweet, the sweet fragrance of our country’s freedom.

      Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 
 II Corinthians 3:17

      If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land 
II Chronicles 7:14

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