363: A Memorial Day Prayer
I don’t know if it’s appropriate for a civilian to salute military personnel or memorials.
If not, I hope I can get some grace for doing so several times over the past 12 hours on the Major Mike Donahue memorial trail. I walked the absolutely beautiful loop on Liberty Mountain at dusk last night and then again at dawn on this Memorial Day.
For most of my adult life, I’ve heard the debate as to whether our downrange soldiers are actually protecting our freedom; but today is not the day for that debate. Today is the day to celebrate the lives of those who gave their lives for a cause bigger than themselves.
For some reason, the past 24 hours have impressed on me a call to pray for the families of the fallen—particularly of those of my generation. I’ve pondered where my head would be today, if my brave brother had been murdered by terrorists while serving in the Air Force. I would be proud but somber. I probably wouldn’t feel like picnicking or disc golfing or wake surfing.
As I prayerfully walked on this trail, I thought about the amputees and others who are living casualties of war. They got to come home, but they live everyday with tangible reminders of horror and loss. They don’t have a day to celebrate their sacrifice, the ever-present challenges they now endure.
I thought about those with survivor’s remorse—those who walked through the valley of the shadow of death. They lost screaming brothers and mangled sisters. The blood on their faces and uniforms wasn’t their own. They still hear things, see things, dream things. Their war for freedom still wages. Their sacrifice is not just in the past.
I think about the families of those who’ve been killed in terrorist attacks. Their spouses or children or parents didn’t intend to be war participants. They didn’t volunteer to be combatants. They weren’t striving to be heroes. We don’t have a federal holiday to mourn their loss, their sacrifice.
My prayer today is that God would give all of these souls a respite from their grief. Oh, there’s freedom to rightfully mourn; but today it comes with proud tears, with happy memories, with a renewed hope for a reunion someday. I pray that God redeems their pain and leverages their loss. I plead for peace. I ask that no more brave soldiers will need posthumous plaques, that no more civilians would need victim memorials.
Memorial Day is full enough.