I don't seem to be able to find the right words today to adequately honor all of the service men and women who have lost their lives in the name of freedom. For as long as I can remember, I have always taken at least a bit of time over the course of the Memorial Day weekend to reflect on the subject of war and the fallen heroes of war. This dedication to remembering was instilled in me by my mother. Her patriotism, I suppose, was a natural result of a long line of military service on her father's side of the family. It was surely also influenced by her days as a Marine wife who raised a small child alone during the years of WWII. So, remembering our military heroes is nothing new to me.
Still, this year is different. This year, it is personal. It is personal because last year on July 9, 2009, I stood, along with thousands of others in the hot sun of July in Georgia to pay tribute to our own town's young, fallen hero, Lance Corporal Seth Sharp. Seth, was wounded and died in a surge in Afghanistan on July 7, 2009. While I was standing there that day, looking around at all of the flags flying and the people watching for the motorcade, I could not help but think of those soldiers who served in Vietnam who did not get a hero's welcome home. I was thankful that most of our country learned a lesson from those days of vile disrespect for our military and I prayerfully hoped that we would never see such behavior against our servicemen again. I also thought of all the wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, sweethearts, all over the country whose loved ones are serving and how each one of them could, at any moment, hear the same news that Ric Sharp and his family heard about their Seth.
As we stood in the scorching sun, occasionally chatting with friends who had just arrived on the scene, different ones of us would get updates on the status of the motorcade: "The plane has arrived in Calhoun," "They have left the airport," "They are at the traffic light in Adairsville," "They passed under the ladder truck flag," and with each call the voices said, "there are so many people here, it is amazing." And on the calls came, until the motorcade was coming around the curve and over the hill to where we stood at the road leading to our church. We heard them before they arrived. The Patriot Guard Riders and the thunderous roar of their bikes, vibrated in our feet and sounded as if God, Himself, were roaring in righteous anger at the cruelty of this world toward those of His own.
So we stood and watched the motorcade move past us. Some in silence with hand over heart; a man in Clan Sutherland attire stood as a statue,
unmoving with arms to his sides; children watched with eyes big and bright, all silent, all filled with our own thoughts and prayers. Some of us hid behind our cameras and watched through the viewfinders, with tears silently running down our cheeks and off our chins as we tried in futility to capture the moment, for a later time when the family might care to see their beloved being escorted home in such grand circumstance.
The days that followed would be a wonderful outpouring of love to Seth's family and to the Marines who took turns standing guard over their fallen brother. It was a life changing event in many ways for me. It made real to me, the sacrifice of all who have fallen in the fight for freedom, during the course of our history as a nation, and the sacrifice of their loved ones. It moved me from someone who is a respecter of the military to someone who now sees each soldier, not just my own family members, as a son, daughter, husband, wife, sister, brother, niece, nephew, cousin and/or dear friend.
Each one of these precious men and women enters the military for different reasons, but each one who enlists takes the same oath to defend our Constitution, bear true faith and allegiance to it and obey the orders of the President of the United States. This is an awesome and heavy weight on the shoulders of these young men and women, but they are trained to bear it well and bear it they do, even unto death. I will never see a soldier again, without thinking of Seth Sharp and realizing that each one of these dedicated servers of our country, is a Seth Sharp to someone out there. May each one come home safely to his or her loved ones and would it not be nice, if they had to go to war, no more.
I hope my graceful readers have a good Memorial Day and hope you will stop and remember all those who have paid the price for our freedom.
God bless those who serve and God bless our country.
Thank you, Lance Corporal Seth Sharp.
To read more about Seth or to pay your respect to Seth Sharp and his family, you can post a comment on Seth's Marine page on Facebook. His family post there often.