I remember Memorial Day Weekend 13 years ago, Scotty had just been injured and we were living out of Walter Reed in Washington D.C. In an effort to get out of the hospital and do something “normal” we visited Arlington Cemetery. While that might not seem normal to some, it was to us. We needed to connect with those who had paid the ultimate sacrifice, we needed to know we were not alone.
We attended the ceremony of the laying of the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown. As President Bush’s motorcade rolled by us with the hundreds of people standing by and watching, I waved and wondered if he saw us, I wondered if he saw the huge helmet on my husband’s head and his missing eyes. I wondered if he saw the pain in my face. I thought of our friends who were laid to rest and their families who were left behind to pick up the pieces.
I wondered if they were known.
When people talk to these families, they will usually say “I’m so sorry” or pity them, but as I have lived this military journey I have discovered that these families are the best ones this country has. While others may see loss and heartache these Gold Star families (those who have lost a service member in the line of duty) serve something greater than self, is there anything more admirable? They deserve far more than our pity, we should look up to them! These families have stood strong in the face of unimaginable heartache and still carry on in service to this country, they love America like our forefathers hoped we all would. Why? Because they have invested in it.
Their American Soldier paid a price for this amazing country and they carry that torch of freedom.
All great things require great sacrifice. This Memorial Weekend I pray that more Americans will be exposed to Gold Star Families. I pray that we would better understand them and the sacrifice they wake up with each morning.
The message of the fallen soldier and their family is that we must never underestimate the privilege of living in this country and the sacrifice that it requires. Let us remember and let us ask what we can do for our communities, cities, states and country?
I challenge you on this Memorial Weekend to find a Gold Star Family; through your church, through your community or city, you will not have to look far, find out about them, pray for them, learn about and from them. You won’t find better than these folks.
When I went to write this post I thought of highlighting a brave hero and their family. But then I realized I didn’t know how I would choose from all the incredible families that I know. Last month when I met with Ivanka Trump, we talked about how these families are such a core part of the moral fiber of our country. If you ask any military member past or present, they will tell you the stories of their incredibly brave friends who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
There can be no better way to pay tribute to those that have given everything for this country than by encouraging, honoring and lifting up those they left behind. I hope this Memorial Day we will remember them and the important message they bring.