Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day PS

My blog last week was light-hearted and dismissive about Memorial Day.  Then a young woman spoke during the prayer section of worship this morning.  She spoke of taking “the class” for wives whose husbands are headed to the war zone.  In her case, Afghanistan.  They told her what she could expect if her husband was killed.  If your loved one is just wounded you get a phone call. But if he was killed you would get a Marine at your door in full dress uniform. She told us the minute you saw the Marine at your door you would know. And how she dreaded her doorbell ringing.

Later, after church, a woman my age told of her husband serving in Viet Nam.  She recounted the same thing.  She lived in a remote part of town and many times people got lost trying to find her house.  One day she saw two guys in military uniform—full dress uniform—driving around town looking lost and how frightened she was that they were looking for her house.

The written word doesn’t do justice to the sound of a young woman’s voice when she tells the story, still so fresh and raw.  And fifty years don’t dim the seriousness of having to prepare yourself to receive the news that your husband has been killed in a war.

I need to apologize for the insensitivity that a secure life gives me, of never being a military wife, of marrying a veteran who enjoyed his time overseas, who never faced combat, who has only good memories, a man who came home without a scratch.

I forget sometimes to remember that my secure life comes from the service of other people who face death and still keep going.  I can’t pretend to have that kind of courage but I’m learning to have gratitude for the ones who do. And I stand in awe of women who look at men in full military dress in a way that I cannot imagine.

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