Two little girls singing the “Star Spangled Banner” surprised the high schools students, but not us. Our granddaughters, Rebecca and Rachel, often sang together. They have beautiful voices and sweet spirits. This particular day was unusual because we were in Washington DC, approaching the Korean War Memorial. The girls, along with their cousin, Zara, knew that this was a time to be somber, but they were too young to really understand why. And, so, based on the information that they understood, the two sisters decided to sing our nation’s anthem.
As we walked up the sidewalk, approaching from the Vietnam War Memorial Wall of Remembrance, a group of high school students was nearby, noisy and haughty. These 17 year olds were bored with the memorials and were explaining loudly how “lame” the tour was. But, when the two little girls, holding hands, with cousin and grandparents in tow approached them, the high school kids were wise enough to grow quiet and to look carefully at our family.
If you haven’t visited the Korean War Memorial you might not understand the question that we got from the girls as we came to the side of the display; for large statues of Americans in uniforms were next to us, lined up, marching to a silent-to-us cadence. The faces are all different, representing all who are American; their bodies look cold and weary; they appear to be moving in spite of their concrete boots and legs and arms. And, they are all the same shade of gray. The girls looked up at us and said, “Are these people ghosts?”
John knelt down and explained that the figures were not ghosts, only statutes. But, that each one represented someone’s father, son or dad.
I’ve thought about that question many times over the years. Are these people ghosts?
In America, we often wave the flag on days like today, Veteran’s Day, but then we put them away and pretend that everything is fine. We try not to look at the homeless man who is wearing parts of an Army uniform. And, we ignore the increasing number of men and women who walk on legs and feet that are man-made. We enjoy the videos of the coming home reunions, but we hesitate to watch the news that is showing more and more clips of bombs bursting in air.
And, so on this Veteran’s Day, I ask you one question, will you today find and thank a Veteran or will you, like so many others, see them as ghosts?
I need to hug the veterans in my family and remind them how very proud of them I am. Oh, they will hum and haw and be embarrassed, but I am thankful that they chose to serve when service wasn’t cool.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1