When one is charged with writing at least a sermon, a lesson, and a blog every week, sometimes you have to go looking for ideas and images to inspire you. On other days they just kind of present themselves. And once in a while, you find yourself responding to some happening, some milestone, some great gain or loss … just something that tugs at your heart and moves your mind. On this Memorial Day Monday, it found me.
I was spending some of the holiday watching my beloved Braves play a game that, coincidently, Jordan and his crew were attending. It was kind of a shared family experience from 400 miles away. At the end of the third inning, the network did not cut to a commercial. Instead, they fixed the camera on a lonesome seat just past the right-field flagpole. “The Seat of Honor,” it was designated; placed there to call remembrance to the 92,000 American MIA’s and POW’s who did not come home. Standing at attention beside the chair was an honor guard from a local high school ROTC. That image alone made me more than misty.
I come from a military family. I am son, husband, father, and brother to someone who served. There is an uncle’s name on a Washington wall and at statue across the bay at McDill of a young Air Force officer whose Iraq death rocked our town and whose funeral I officiated. Thinking about the sacrifices, the questions, and the broken hearts I found myself powerfully grateful. And greatly powerless.
After the game, another image of that seat made its way to me. In a rain delay when fans most sought cover, the faithful guard did not leave his post. Amidst the showers a man took notice and placed an umbrella over the dress blued cadet, allowing the rain to fall on him instead. Dang it, I had to cry all over again. Not sure why those images grabbed be so, but they did. Probably would have done the same to you.
The man with the umbrella intrigued me. I’m sure he expected no notoriety for his action. There was likely more to it than politely keeping the kid and his military finest dry. I’m just guessing that somewhere underneath that guy felt a gracious helping of awe at what that seat and its guard represented. Times like that you have to do something, if for no other reason, just to know you did. And at that moment he and the guard shared in the honor of all that Monday meant. And through my brushed back tears, allowed me to do the same.