I’ve lived near military bases my entire life. I can remember sitting on my grandparent’s front porch and watching military convoys traveling from Camp Lejeune to Fort Bragg. I learned how to ice skate at Fort Bragg. I’ll never forget playing at my other grandparent’s house and hearing the guns training at Fort Bragg in the evening hours. Once a year my grandfather would get a special letter in the mail inviting him to a reunion. Every year he would give me the letter. He never read it. He never went to a reunion. He gave me the letter because I was obsessed with the fact that it said “USS O’Brien” on it. My name is Brian and I was named after the O’Brien because that’s the ship he was on in World War II.
|USS O'Brien (DD-725)|
Now I live near the largest naval base in the world. Most of my closest friends are men and women that are active duty or veterans. I love when they take me on base and give me tours or when they tell me stories about their experiences. They’re pretty awesome! If I ever need anything they always drop whatever they’re doing and come to serve in any way they can. They’re more than my friends they’re my brothers.
Today I’m thinking about Andrew. Andrew served in combat overseas. He’s been a sounding board for me for years. We talk about everything. There have been many late nights where one or both of us have been pouring our heart out to each other. He helps me remember to have fun and let go of some of the small things that bother me in life. He also grills a mighty fine stuffed chicken fajitas meal!
Today I’m thinking about Kolbi. He’s a retired veteran that I met while attending a seminar. He’s helped my wife and me become financially healthy with his teaching. We actually serve in the same city as pastors. Every 2 weeks we get together just to hang out and pray for each other. I’ve grown to love him and his wife and I look forward to the times we spend together.
Today I’m thinking about Marshall. Marshall is a weird one…he’s a Submariner. For those of you that don’t know about Submariners that means that Marshall actually gets inside of a ship that is designed to spend months at a time underwater while on mission. He’s definitely a little crazy! Let me tell you something about him though, I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone who is so servant-hearted in my entire life. He loves to help. His heart is as big as Texas. We meet regularly to hold one another accountable and he has helped me become a better father and husband because of his awesome example.
Today I’m thinking about Josh. Josh serves in the Navy. Josh has been serving at our church for a while now. He is very dependable. Any time you need him to do something all you have to do is ask. Our families have grown quite close to each other. I know that if I ever need Josh all I have to do is pick up the phone. He’s a great friend and I’m glad he is a part of my life.
So what’s the point in me writing all of this? My life is so much better because these men are in it. I’m so grateful that they are here. I can’t imagine my life without them. Today is Memorial Day 2017. Memorial Day is not Veterans Day. Memorial Day is when we stop to memorialize those that didn’t make it home. Memorial Day is when we remember the immense sacrifices that have been made by men like Andrew, Kolbi, Marshall, Josh, and countless others. Today while I tell you about my friends – my brothers – I want to remind us that somewhere today “Andrew’s” family is mourning because he didn’t come home. Somewhere today “Kobli’s” wife is holding his folded flag and trying hard not to let her tears mess it up. Tonight “Marshall’s” battle buddies are going to be having a few drinks in his honor and telling stories about him as they try to ignore the emptiness in their very soul that used to be occupied by their brother. Somewhere today “Josh’s” kids are putting fresh flowers on his grave and trying hard to not blame God for his death. Memorial Day isn’t about a 3-Day weekend and a barbecue. Memorial Day is about all those that gave the last full measure of devotion.
|Arlington National Cemetery|
So Andrew, Kolbi, Marshall, and Josh: I’m glad you fellas are a part of my life. Thank you for your service. I love you. And to all those families that are still trying to put the pieces back together: we think of you today. We pray for you today. We honor your loved one’s memory today. We are here for you.
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