Today my heart is full of gratitude!
I am thankful for God’s blessings in my life, and I am thankful for the brave men and women who serve and for their families who sacrifice, sometimes at tremendous costs. I personally know many men and women who have served or are still serving in the military. Whether stateside or on foreign soil, they all have given of themselves, as each has done his/her part to defend others and to keep America free.
When I was growing up, my parents taught us to have respect for the military. We were taught to appreciate and honor our soldiers who are currently serving and our veterans. Dad’s father had fought in World War I, and Mom’s Dad had fought in World War II. Maybe that is why my parents made it a point to have all six of us kids wave to soldiers and thank them whenever the opportunity arose. One time, I remember Dad pulling over as a Convoy of about 50 trucks carrying Vietnam soldiers passed us on the highway. We spent the next 15 minutes, waving and yelling out, “Hurray for the men in green!” Now, I wonder how many of them returned to their families.
A few weeks ago as I was sorting through items at my father’s house I found letters that Mom had written to some Vietnam soldiers. One that brought back memories was a letter to a certain Lance Corporal, letting him know that Jesus loved him and that there were people back home who truly cared about our soldiers. Through their correspondence, Mom introduced us to the Lance Corporal and before long she had all of kids writing him letters and sending him pictures. You would have thought we had won the lottery when Lance (as we nicknamed him) sent us pictures of himself, his buddies, and even their dog. When Lance visited our home after returning to the states, I felt like I was in the presence of a celebrity. I was!
When a loved one deploys there is always a chance that they might not return. Almost four years ago this reality hit home.
When my daughter called and told me that Jonam had been killed in a suicide bombing, it felt as if I had been punched in the chest. “Not Jonam!” Having three children in the military at the time, and having known someone personally who had lost a son in the war, I was aware that there was a cost for serving one’s country. But all I could think of was: “Dear God! Not Jonam!”
Jonam grew up around our family. He was a great kid who immediately lit up every room he walked into with his contagious smile and cheery disposition. I loved that kid! Just days before he had skyped my youngest son. Now he was gone!
As I stood in the kitchen, my phone still in my hand, I grieved for the amazing young man who had touched the lives of so many people. I also grieved for his amazing family. I couldn’t even imagine their loss! But as the tears rolled down my face, thankfulness swelled in my heart. I realized that Jonam’s life wasn’t taken. It was given. He gave it the day he signed the papers to enter the armed services. He gave it every time he put on his uniform. And He ultimately gave it the day he left this earth and entered Heaven’s glory.
Thank you, Jonam! Thank you all who have given the ultimate sacrifice and laid down your lives for our freedom!
John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Have a blessed Memorial Day,