Sunday, May 25, 2008

In Memory of Fallen Soldiers

I'd like to think most of us have moved past the idea that support and encouragement of our troops - the men and women who volunteer to serve in the military and not the hired contractors who serve to make a profit - does not mean support for the war in Iraq. I have never supported it and still cannot. But make no mistake - I have friends and family who serve now and have served in decades past. I've seen them used and abused and I simply hope for their safe return home and for greater wisdom to direct our armed forces.

I don't sport bumper stickers or yellow ribbons, but I know many who do. Sometimes, they are presented by the wives and husbands and parents and children and brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and more who wait here at home anxious for their loved ones to return home. I tell my elected representatives in government when they've been wise and when they've been unwise when deploying the military.

On this Memorial Weekend, I am grateful for the freedoms we have and enjoy as folks vacation and barbecue with great ease and pleasure, and I know many folks who never really think about how we came to such ease. There are voices at home and abroad who work unselfishly in preserving such freedoms.

Some folks today, however, are grieving for their losses.

I read about one woman, Kristen Nelson, a widow at age 20, who saw her Marine husband return home in a flag-draped coffin one day after their first-year anniversary. Her story and that of her husband, Cpl. Richard Nelson is told with images in this report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

More on the story behind the images is here. A young American widow and her family will be spending this weekend and many more to come marking the loss of Cpl. Nelson. A life-sized cardboard image of the young Marine haunts their home today. And for this Memorial weekend, I hope you take some time to consider the real lives, the real people, whose loss is keen and whose futures are uncertain. (NOTE: I received an email from Cpl. Nelson's brother Dave today, which I appreciated, and he included a link to a website of remembrance for his brother - I encourage you to visit and sign the guestbook there.)

There are so many stories of real people, typical Americans all, which deserve to be recognized. One place to read about them is here, in a continuing series called I Got The News Today.

Don't wait until the events of our time are history to think about what is happening today.


  1. Memorial Day Sonnet

    If Liberty means anything to me,
    I will remember what my freedom cost,
    By those who gave their all to keep me free,
    Whose lives were sacrificed, but never lost.
    I will remind myself of what they did,
    And keep them dearly cherished in my heart;
    Their honor never from me shall be hid
    And I will know they always did their part
    To save our nation and its people here,
    To pledge their lives in defense of our ways,
    To show that freedom always outlives fear,
    And sacrifice is hallowed all our days.
    If Liberty means anything to me,
    I will remember those who kept me free.

    © John Stuart 2008
    Pastor at Erin Presbyterian Church,
    Knoxville, Tennessee

  2. Yes, and then I read this:

    Foreclosures in military towns quadruple the U.S. rate

    Anyone seen how many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are in our homeless shelters these days? Do people know that there are military families on food stamps right now?

    Now, can anyone tell me why Bush keeps vetoing a pay raise for the troops, and John McCain and Ted Stevens think not offering soldiers better education benefits is a good idea?

    Support the troops, indeed. They're happy to slap a yellow ribbon on the SUV but anything beyond an empty gesture is too much for these clowns.