It’s been 52 years. 52 years since I came home from elementary school without a care in the world only to find out that my father had been killed while engaged in flight operations off the coast of North Viet Nam. 52 years…..that’s a long time. 52 years…..you think I would have dealt and processed all the pain. Yet here I am in church yesterday, in the middle of announcements, unable to speak as I ask the congregation to pause in the midst of their Memorial Day celebrations to remember and give thanks for those who died while in service to our country. I couldn’t speak. I thought I was going to lose it. 52 years….you think I would have gotten’ over it. What a silly notion.
Its been 52 years of wondering what it would have been like to have my Dad at my sporting events, my graduations, my wedding, my ordination.
Its been 52 years of wondering if he would have approved of me going into the Marine Corps – he was a Navy aviator after all.
Its been 52 years of wondering what he would have thought of my wife, my college, my commitment to follow God’s call into fulltime ministry.
Its been 52 years of wondering how he would have related to our daughters – his grandchildren. Would he have taken them camping, shooting, fishing like he did with his children?
Its been 52 years of wondering what he would have thought of our political climate. As a man who believed in duty, honor, and service I can’t believe he would be too thrilled.
Its been 52 years of missed experiences, and yet he has been with me the entire time. I have heard his voice. I have sensed his presence.
He’s gone, but he has never left me. I will always be thankful for his love, his strong sense of honor, faith, and service. I want to believe that he would be proud – not just of me, but also of my brothers and sister. He taught us well. Our mother continued the lessons he began.
Memorial Day means many things to many people. For me it will always be a time to wonder…..and give thanks.