A Special Pastoral Message from Rev. Linda
The Pentagon is massive—and because the stone could not be matched exactly, the damaged area from 9/11 is still visible today.
The buildings on 14th Street and Constitution Avenue that house the offices of the various Cabinet members are concrete monuments to our democracy.
Arlington National Cemetery is expansive—480,000+ are interred on over 600 acres. The solemnity at the Tomb of the Unknowns’ changing of the guard literally took my breath away.
Every place I went—everything I saw—on the Mission 11 Talons Out Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. on April 22 made an indelible mark on my memory.
But what I remember most is simply this:
I WALKED WITH HEROES!
As the eighty-three World War II and Korean War veterans neared their respective memorials, I saw spines curved by age straighten…stooped shoulders pulled back to military posture.
When the photographer asked them to salute, arthritic hands straightened and even those weakened by the palsy of age found new strength. The old became young again—at least for that moment. In place of 80 and 90 year old men, I saw young boys—17-21 years of age—with the pride of country shining in their eyes.
As the veterans walked through the gauntlets of well-wishers at two airports and again at their homecoming fifteen hours later in Kalamazoo, time and again I watched them return a salute from another vet…shake the hand of a teen…or embrace a small child waving an American flag.
These were those who went to war—some willingly, some reluctantly—and served with a courage they didn’t know they had to protect a county and way of life that they loved.
As they were welcomed home that night, I saw an occasional tear wiped away—
tears for those who didn’t come home…
tears for those who did, but now are no longer with us…
tears, too, because mankind seems to be perched once more on the precipice of conflict and our young men and women might have to again fight to protect the freedoms that God intended for all to enjoy.
My parents taught me at an early age that Memorial Day is a day to remember. This year, I will remember—
I WALKED WITH HEROES!