Memorial Day.  Established after the Civil War to encourage healing as a nation and to bring both sides together.  Today we think of Memorial Day as a time to remember all who have given their lives in service for our great and blessed nation. 

Although the calendar recognized this past Monday as Memorial Day, mine was yesterday.  I unexpectedly ran into the Marine Corps soldier whose homecoming I mentioned in a previous writing (A Soldier Returns). 

I first learned about this soldier when his wife and I got acquainted through email messages. We hadn’t met, but our sons were in kindergarten together.  She said that her husband was a marine who had just learned that he’d be deployed to the war in Iraq.  I began praying for him and their family that night. 

Ironically, the day his wife and I actually met was the day he was being flown out of the country.  We were at my son’s birthday party.  My heart was torn between being happy and joyous for my son and feeling sadness and concern for my new friend and her cute young son knowing they’d be without their soldier throughout most of the school year.  It was mid-September.   I couldn’t imagine my two sons having to be without their father that long.  And I thought about how hard it would be for him to miss out on so much of their lives.

I continued to pray for this soldier, his wife and son.  Often I’d think about him when I’d watch my husband with our sons, knowing that he was missing that same time with his son so that he could serve and defend our country and us.  I thought about him at Christmas while we were cozy and happy in our home wondering where he was and what kind of Christmas he’d be having.  More prayers. 

I can’t begin to imagine the sacrifices this soldier made or the discomforts and pain he endured to do his duty to honor his country on behalf of you, me, our loved ones, and all that’s important about being American.  And I couldn’t begin to put all those thoughts into words when I met him and shook his hand. What a proud moment that was for me to shake the hand of a soldier who sacrificed, endured, and returned fsafely home from war.   That was my Memorial Day and it was the most special I’ve ever had.

I managed to tell him what a privilege it was to meet him and that I’d been praying for him, but I didn’t think to thank him for his service.  I’ll write him a note to share my gratitude and appreciation for what him and his fellow soldiers.  That note will include the words of Romans 1:8   “How I thank God through Jesus Christ for each one of you.”