As I understand it, Memorial Day is a day we set aside to honor and remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to insure our freedoms.
This is a very good thing. We should all pause to give thanks for those who gave of themselves, so we might live each day in what their sacrifice has bought.
So to all those who cannot read these words… Thank you.
And for those who served, but returned with various scars… Thank you.
And for any person who signed on to fight on our behalf… Thank you.
We owe you more than you gave. But, thanks for being there for us – and for being a constant reminder of the value of freedom…
My father was a soldier. He served in the Korean conflict. He was fortunate enough to return home from his time of service – to raise a family and to forge a living in the best way he knew how.
He did not talk very much about his time in the service. Occasionally, he would have some random thoughts about his military service, and I could tell he was visibly shaken. He didn’t mind the serving. But he never cared for what that serving did to him.
“We were animals,” he once said. “War brought out the worst in us.”
I never knew what he meant by that.
But I know that my father had a soft heart. He kept it hidden away, most of the time. Probably because his own father was a hard man – a man that demanded respect and had no use (or room in his heart) for a soft-hearted son.
So my dad decided to please his dad – and he never really cultivated what God had placed within him.
My father had a raging anger. I think that was the reason. He never became what his heart was leading him to be – so his frustrations got the best of him.
I think that he loved us kids – he just didn’t quite know how to love us.
Especially, the son whose soft heart was just like his own.
He was most harsh with me. As I look back, I don’t think he ever meant to be – I was just a daily reflection of the person he could have been – but was never allowed to be.
Because he was never permitted to cultivate his own heart, he never gained the ability to help someone else cultivate theirs.
The thing I always needed the most was the love of my father. But it seems that he never really learned how to unleash that loving heart, towards me – that soft heart that was always there within him. That frustration always seemed to plague his soul.
I think that is why, when my father went off to serve his country, he was troubled by what he saw, what he did, what he was commanded to do. And how those things always tore at his heart. He could never really allow his soft heart to become that hard.
On this Memorial Day, I will remember my father. He did not die for his country – but every day he seemed to die just a little… inside where it mattered most.