I am not a solder, nor am I a military veteran. I'm 150 pounds overweight, I have bad knees, and I have a bruised spinal cord, all of which means I will likely never be a soldier or veteran. Simple truths. After September 11, 2001, when I was only 75 pounds overweight and my knees weren't quite as bad (and nine years before I nearly broke my neck), I gave more than a moment of thought to getting myself in shape and joining up as a chaplain. Whether it was doubt that I could get myself in shape, a sense of duty to the congregation to which I was called, the conviction that it was not what God had in mind for me, yellow-bellied cowardice, or whatever it was, I decided not to sign up. That was as close as I ever got to military service.
Despite that, I have a keenly developed sense of patriotism. I love my country. Sometimes that love of country leads in some interesting directions. Sometimes it's engaging in political debates best left to others. Sometimes it's getting misty-eyed at the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner", a song I love despite that fact that I find it musically and lyrically inane. ("O Canada"--now THAT is a great anthem both musically and lyrically!) Sometimes that patriotism means that I get frustrated, not understanding how some of our leaders can make the decisions they do, decisions which seem to be destroying our country a little bit every day.
But today, that patriotism means that I remember and honor those who have served in our armed forces, especially those who have died in service. Though Memorial Day is meant to be a day of remembrance of those who have died in that service, I also choose to honor today those who served and those who serve now whose time had not yet come, those willing to make that ultimate sacrifice. Though I don't agree with the politics of the individual members of Crosby Stills & Nash, they said it very well when they said, "Find the cost of freedom buried in the ground." Those who served in the American Revolution and all those battles and wars since have fought and often died to win and protect the freedoms we enjoy (and sometimes abuse) today in the United States of America. I am proud of the men and women who have served, who upheld the honor and integrity and freedom of this nation. I am proud of those who serve today, who continue to uphold those virtues we as citizens hold most dear. And I am humbled by and thankful for those who have died upholding those virtues.
For those of you serving in honor today: Thank you.
For those of you who have served in honor in the past: Thank you.
For those of you who have been wounded in the honorable service of our nation: Thank you.
For those of you who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the honorable service of our nation: Thank you.
Thank you for doing what I could not. God help me, I won't forget.