Monday, November 12, 2012

My Children's Hero

By tonight, most of America has now wiped Veterans Day from its mind as we plod through another nine to five work week. 

My mind continues to dwell there, especially in this week just following the presidential election.  Perhaps it is because I am concerned about this country.  Or maybe it's simply that I feel guilty at how easily I find it to turn my back on all thoughts of our veterans and their sacrifice, like flipping a light switch.

I am guilty of taking for granted my freedoms, for not being thankful enough for those who have served my country.  Yet, it's not because I am unfamiliar with their sacrifice.  My problem comes from being so familiar with sacrifice that it can easily become commonplace.

I grew up with a father who had a shoebox full of black and white images from Vietnam, a few depicting a young man not yet my father, his unwrinkled face sporting a dark moustache and toothy grin as he held a machine gun as large as my car's front seat.  I still have a hard time imagining my father flying an airplane or wielding such a large weapon.

On my upstairs dresser sit portraits of both my World War II veteran grandfathers in full uniform.  I sat for hours with both of them, listening to what they wanted to tell me most--war stories, sadly, most of which I have forgotten.  Although both men are now gone, the images I see each day are of men in their youth, full life ahead of them, children yet unborn.

Even as a child, I knew sacrifice for one's country wasn't just something done in the past but something that must be continued in the present to protect our nation. 

That present included sacrificing my mother's sister and their family as they traveled the world with her spouse, "Uncle Elton," a chaplain for the Navy.  Our visits together once or twice a year were always packed with laughter and love, always ended with tears and the pain that comes from love stretching over the miles.

Now that I have children of my own, they, too, are growing up with a knowledge that sacrifice for one's country is a calling, is just an ordinary part of life.  Like me, they will likely struggle to really appreciate that sacrifice because it is so near.

My children know that Grandaddy fought in some war years before they were born, but to young minds, the present is more important than the past, easier for them to grasp, imagine, hold in their hands and hearts.

The concept of a soldier's sacrifice lives vibrantly in their minds through their Uncle Johnathan, my brother.  As a chaplain in the Navy, Uncle Johnathan (along with Aunt Liza) can't always be at their birthday parties, can't "just come over" as Emerson and Amelia still often ask him to do. 

To my children, Uncle Johnathan is their hero.  He is mine, too.
I give thanks that in this day when so many people let us down that it's almost expected, there still exist real heroes with hearts devoted to God and lives given in service of our country.

May God richly bless them.

Images: Poster for Wyatt's school last week and a painting door prize my mother won at that celebration.

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