I posted my daily "I'm thankful for..." on facebook this morning. I am thankful for the men and women who have and are serving to protect freedom. This morning, with the expanse of the day before me, I was grateful to have my husband, a veteran, home with me to share it with. We shared morning time with our boys, Ken got them off to school, then collected me and we took the metro into D.C.
Our destination was the Holocaust Museum.
Truthfully I haven't processed this day. We spent 4 1/2 hours in the museum and had to leave before we could soak up the testimony of tragedy and triumph that permeates the walls...
...the wooden walls that frame the box cars that carried 100+ people at a time in transport
...the walls of wrought iron that were the cemetery gates to a holy land that cradled the long dead and those brought there for execution from the ghettos
...the walls that were cut from stone in Jerusalem and form a standing stone, erected to offer the personal testimony via video of those who survived in order to continue to survive
I saw many faces of veterans today as I looked at photographs and watched videos. I saw many different uniforms as well. German. Russian. British. American. Polish. Italian. I saw faces of Resistance: Ghetto veterans, German college students veterans, Civilians veterans who sheltered Jews.
I could not walk through the museum without thinking of Rwanda, Dar-fur, Uganda, Bosnia...and those who by definition are veterans serving there. Being a veteran does not mean you have served to protect freedom. You are a veteran by having had service or experience in warfare. I thought of a man who wears a uniform, who brought the experience of warfare to Ft. Hood, to brothers and sisters who already knew too well the cost of service.
We are all veterans. We are all caught in an epic story of tragedy and triumph, unbelievable horror and miraculous survival. The question really is more about whom we serve and for what we will fight. I have come away from the museum today off balance, keeping the questions pushed to the periphery until I have a chance to be quiet with them...
...would I have survived?
...would I have fought well?
...would I have served?
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:29-31
If it is warfare, and I am a veteran of it, I guess the more appropriate questions are...
...will I survive?
...will I fight well?
...will I serve?
I know I will survive for God has that promise in my heart and written on his hands. But I am challenged to daily remember those who have fought well and served others. And to choose to do the same in a world that doesn't learn lessons well enough to not repeat them over and over again.
His story went like this: An SS officer pulled one man aside and told him to dig a hole. When the man finished he was told to jump in it, head first. The SS officer had him buried. The act of killing him this way was enough for the officer, who went on. The men on the detail, knowing they were about to go back to the camp, dug him up. They carried him back to camp and attended to him. They saved his life. In a bleak world where there was no life, they took back his right to be alive. In that act they survived, they fought well, and they served.
May God grant us the courage, conviction, and strength to do the same in the face of our daily battles.
You are blessed, Favored One!