There’s something about Memorial Day that makes me think of memories.
When I was five years old my mother remarried a man who was stationed in the Army. A few days after their marriage we moved onto an Army Base in California and a year later my step-father became a Veteran. Time went on and I was introduced to my uncle who didn’t get to serve on a base within the United States, but served in Vietnam. During my life I’ve only seen him a handful of times, but each time he shared with me stories of what the war was like for him, and to this day those moments will forever be… unforgettable!
Then in 2003 my son joined the Marines, and I would get to experience what a mother experiences when her child chooses to serve their country. There’s something about watching a family member put on a uniform… slip on their boots, and tote a weapon behind their back that brings the sound of freedom loudly ringing through one’s ears. There’s no way to truly explain what it felt like for me to give to birth to my only son, then spend the next 18 years trying to protect him, and then one day he made a decision that not only affected my life, but all those who loved him.
One of the most beautiful memories I have of my son’s decision to join the Marines is a photograph.
In 2003 I had gone to get groceries, and when I returned home my ex-husband met me at the door and said, “Gina, come here. Do you want to see something that is going to make you cry?”
“No!” I quickly replied.
He grabbed my hand (turned to make sure I wasn’t resisting) and walked me into the living room.
What did I see?
An nine-year old girl, lying face down on my couch asleep. Her back left-foot was positioned over her right, and her right hand was up by her face. Her face was cocked to the right in the direction of a photograph. The photograph was of my son, who happens to be her cousin. She fell asleep looking at a picture of Glenn, when he was nine years old. Then I saw it, that one tear that attached itself to her face.
My ex-husband was watching the “War on Iraq” when they were showing the photographs of the American Heroes who were serving far from home, and at that moment my niece, Mikala, grabbed a photograph off my shelf and said, “This is my hero!” and then she fell asleep. When he shared the story with me I ran up to my office, grabbed my camera, and snapped a picture of her sleeping holding the picture of my son.
What has always amazed me is the fact that there were many photographs of Glenn at different ages, but yet she chose to pick the photograph that was close to her age. For the past nine years that picture of Mikala and my son has been sitting on my desk, and each day it reminds me that there are still many families who are missing the ones they love. What also is amazing is now Mikala is the same age that Glenn was when he joined the Marines, and she too will make decisions that will affect not only her life, but all of those who love her.
This photograph also reminds me that my son was one of the many lucky ones who were able to return home to their families and now he’s blessed with a family of his own.
It’s unfortunate that many things in life we don’t truly understand unless there’s a sacrifice involved, and that’s why I choose to call Memorial Day… Memory Day! In fact when it comes to those who serve my country and those who have lost their life serving my country I remember them in my thoughts and my prayers each and every day.
Maybe if the news would start posting pictures of our American Heroes again… Memory Day wouldn’t have to happen once a year, but each morning we could be reminded of the men and women who get up each day and go to work with their boots on.
And the greatest gift I receive from those who serve is— I get the freedom to live where I get to share my heart. I am allowed to wake up each morning and give thanks to the God I believe in because others have fought for my freedom. There are many countries where one is not allowed to be who they were born to be. My Appointments that I spend with God each day are the most important Appointments of my life. They remind me that when freedom rings, it’s because someone laid down their life so I could have it.
1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
ONWARD TO REMEMBERING!