November 28, 2008

The Old Order Will Pass Away...Then What?

My Dad is in town for the Thanksgiving weekend and he's staying at my house. One of my annual rituals, sometimes it's during Advent or just before, is to decorate the grave of my mother and brother at Fort Snelling National Cemetary. I was very happy that, this year, my Dad and I got to do that together. We laid two evergreen wreaths at the grave site and paused for a moment of reflection and prayer. It's always an emotional time. My mother died five days before Thanksgiving in 1996 and so she is always very much in the heart of Dad and I this week.

It's tough spending the holidays in the hospital or the nursing home or the rehab facility with a sick loved one. We'd all rather be at home than standing around a railed bed in a sterile institution. But, it happens. I've been there. You may have been too. Maybe once it was you in that bed while your family visited. Sucks doesn't it?

It's even tougher spending the holidays at the cemetary. Trust me, it's easier to go and pay a visit to someone who's already dead and in need of prayer than it is to be at the graveyard for a internment during a holiday. The old adage goes,and it's true, "Death never takes a holiday"

And so it was that Dad and I paused for death at Fort Snelling National Cemetary on this Fall day. We had to wait in our car, unable to drive down the road, until the Honor Guard firing a salute, playing Taps, and folding the flag finished their service at the graveside of a deceased veteran. I've no idea who it was who died but it didn't matter, I prayed for him anyway. God puts us somewhere for a reason and maybe this poor soul needed my pathetically tossed off prayer. Perhaps, I will never know.

I do know one thing: Thanks be to God for our aging veterans! The Honor Guard consisted, entirely, of not one blessed soul who looked to be under the age of 65. What is going to happen when these Lions pass away? Who is going to take their places at: the gravesites? in the Legion Halls? at the flag burials? Who will be the Honor Guard? Who will visit the graves of the fallen veterans on Memorial Days across the land? Who's going to stand tall with their hands over their hearts as the Colors pass by? as our Anthem is sung? as the Pledge is recited? Who is going to give up their holiday weekend with their family to honor the life in service of a stranger?

It is for this that these men have given their lives. Sometimes literally. A life of sacrifice means something else is offered in its stead. Often the sacrifice consists of their free time, if not health and limbs. Tell me: does an aged vet suffering from gout really want to stand in the rain during a Veterans Day parade? Yet, there he is. You can count on him to be there every year. If you need someone to dig flag post holes in the Avenue of Heroes, he'll be there.

I despair. I really do. I don't see this level of devotion and sacrifice in the middle aged and younger generations. When sacrifice means only getting the TV package with 12 channels instead of 80, I fear that if we don't know what sacrifice for our fellow man means how can we truly know what God's sacrifice of His only Son means?


Blogger Adoro said...


And your mother is in my prayers.

November 28, 2008 6:20 PM  
Blogger Anna B. said...

Beautiful post...

November 29, 2008 12:30 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Thanks, Adoro and Anna B.

November 29, 2008 10:46 AM  

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