My family just experienced maybe one of the most moving events we've ever seen. In our visit to Washington DC we made our way to Arlington National Cemetery where thousands who have severed our nation are buried. We saw the graves of John F. Kennedy and his family. Then we went to the Tomb of the Unknown solider.
On a side note, if you chose to walk while at the cemetery, it is about a mile one way uphill. The lady at the information counter was right, and our children reminded us of the walk the entire time. When we made it to the tomb, I just hoped it was worth the walk and the complaining and the scraped knees that our 7 year old had by now. It was.
Every hour is the changing of the guard. And often through the day the wreath at the tomb is changed. As we were there watching this ritual, I was struck by the the magnitude that this person in the tomb went through for my freedom. They gave their life as have thousands of others with little or no recognition from our nation or others. Literally this is the tomb of an unknown solider. I was moved to tears by what took place here.
Upon leaving the Tomb of the Unknown Solider we planted our tired bodies on some benches just a few hundred feet from the tomb, and there was a water fountain there that made the kids pretty happy. As we sat there another couple walked toward us and sat down on a bench near by. It was obvious that this dude had lost his leg and walking was very hard. He must of had some others injuries as well because of the visible scars on his leg. The thoughts that rushed through my head were so pointed.
We got up to leave, but I told my wife that I wanted to talk to this young man. I asked him if he had served in our military. His answer was somewhat of a stern "yes sir". I put out my hand to shack his hand and was met by a firm and steady grip. Simply I said "thank you for serving", and I honestly don't remember this young man's reply.
I was and still am moved by what I just experienced. There was no further conversation. No other words were exchanged. Our eyes met, and we shook hands. That was it. Yet my mind raised as a few tears rolled down my cheek. I thought of the pain this young soldier went through. He must have served in the last year or so in the Middle East. He couldn't be much more than 20 or 21 years old. But this soldier sacrificed himself for your freedom and mine. He gave something that I have never been asked to give. In his tone and composer I met a broken but proud United States solider. I am so grateful for him.
Walking away I began to read the headstones of the graves we walked by on the one mile trip back to the welcome center. I saw the graves of generals, captains and all kinds of soldiers. I saw one grave of the leader of the corp of Chaplains from decades ago.
We are a blessed people and a blessed nation. Our freedom came at a price. Our faith also came with a price that Jesus was willing to pay. He died for your sins and mine. Far too often we take our freedom and our faith for granted.
I challenge you spend a few minutes thanking God for your freedom and a few more minutes allowing God to strengthen your faith. Because of something we could not do on our own, we are so blessed. It might be good if you would go find a solider and tell them "thank you for serving". It would be good if you would stop a moment and say to God "thank you for giving me Jesus".
Times of reflecting are important. Realizing that life is not just about you or me is vital. Thank God for our gifts of faith and freedom. It is almost July 4th, our nation's birthday. We are blessed.