Stephen Ambrose, in his book the “Band of Brothers,” shared a story about Easy Company in which the soldiers reflected on all that had happened, all that they experienced, all that they witnessed, all that they sacrificed, all that they had lost and understandably asked themselves “what was the point? Why?”
They arrived at a concentration camp and saw first hand the horrors for themselves, the diabolical conditions the prisoners have been subjected to. They saw prisoners near death next to corpses – people malnourished and starving. The men in their shock and horror raced to get food and supplies only to be stopped by one of the medics who told them they can’t just do that… they can’t just give them food and water and free them. That they needed to be careful and cautious and slowly work to help these poor souls if there was any chance for them to physically recover – so, at that moment, they had to keep the prisoners inside the barbed wire fence until they could make sure they could get the care they needed. It was heart-wrenching on every level. These soldiers finally had their answer, why they fight – but it was hell getting to this moment, and in that moment, it still was a living hell.
The author wrote about the incredible contradictions that these soldiers experienced: They found combat to be ugliness, destruction, and death, and hated it. Anything was better than the blood and carnage, the grime and filth, the impossible demands made on the body—anything, that is, except letting down their buddies. They also found in combat the closest brotherhood they ever knew. They found selflessness. They found they could love the other guy in their foxhole more than themselves. “They found that in war, men who loved life would give their lives for them.”
This Memorial Day will always be remembered, not only as a time we honor our heroes on the battlefield, but also our heroes in our hospitals who are fighting an enemy we cannot see, an enemy that threatens people of all ages, all nationalities, all countries throughout our world.
Our faith gives us hope and courage that all or beloved have ascended into heaven.
It will take a long time before the coldness of death is turned into warmth. Jesus taught: “It is better for you that I go away!” These are painful words most of the time, from brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives for our freedom to worship, to those in the Covid-19 isolation wards of hospitals at this very moment, a loved one or comrade saying goodbye in death. Separation hurts, goodbyes bring painful tears, and death of every kind wrenches our heart.
Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Frineds who remember the sacrifice of our soldiers who gave their all, the dedication of our medical teams who continue to give their all daily to save lives. May their spirit of faith, courage, generosity and compassion be our inspiration to make God’s love contagious so that no one dies in vain and our prayers of gratitude bring healing to our world.