Thursday, November 02, 2006

Veteran's Day (early)

"The Things They Carried"

Americans enjoy remarkable freedoms including the freedom to worship. We have recently been reminded that those freedoms can be challenged and sometimes must be defended. This Veteran's Day take time to "count the cost of freedom" and perhaps express gratitude to God and those you know have "carried" us.

The things they carried . . . .

They carried P-38 can openers and heat tabs, watches and dog tags, insect repellent, gum, cigarettes, Zippo lighters, salt tablets, compress bandages, ponchos, Kool-Aid, two or three canteens of water, iodine tablets, sterno, LRRP- rations, and C-rations stuffed in socks.

They carried standard fatigues, jungle boots, bush hats, flak jackets and steel pots (helmets). They carried the M-16 assault rifle. M-1 for us older Dudes.

They carried trip flares and Claymore mines, M-60 machine guns, the M- 70 grenade launcher, M-14's, (M1's), CAR-15's, Stoners, Swedish K's, 66mm Laws, shotguns, .45 caliber pistols, silencers, the sound of bullets, rockets, and choppers, and sometimes the sound of silence. The B.A.R. for us older dudes.

They carried C-4 plastic explosives, an assortment of hand grenades, PRC-25 radios, knives and machetes. Some carried napalm, CBU's and large bombs; some risked their lives to rescue others. Some escaped the fear, but dealt with the death and damage. Some made very hard decisions, and some just tried to survive.

They carried malaria, dysentery, ringworms and leaches. They carried the land itself as it hardened on their boots.

They carried stationery, pencils, and pictures of their loved ones - real and imagined.

They carried love for people in the real world and love for one another. And sometimes they disguised that love: "Don't mean nothin'!"

They carried memories for the most part, they carried themselves with poise and a kind of dignity. Now and then, there were times when panic set in, and people squealed or wanted to, but couldn't; when they itched and made moaning sounds and covered their heads and said "Dear God" and hugged the earth and fired their weapons blindly and cringed and begged for the noise to stop and went wild and made stupid promises to themselves and God and their parents, hoping not to die.

They carried the traditions of the United States military, and memories and images of those who served before them.

They carried grief, terror, longing and their reputations.

They carried the soldier's greatest fear . . . the embarrassment of dishonor.

They crawled into tunnels, walked point, and advanced under fire, so as not to die of embarrassment.

They were afraid of dying, but too afraid to show it.

They carried the emotional baggage of men and women who might die at any moment.

They carried the weight of the world.

THEY CARRIED EACH OTHER.

Remember them this Remembrance Day, November 11.

PRAYER: Almighty God, thank You for the veterans who answered the call and paid the price to guarantee our freedom of worship. Help us to remember and never forget their sacrifice nor the eternal sacrifice made by your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

--from "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien. Selected from "God at Work," a ministry of St Mark's United Methodist Church, 8550 Pioneers Blvd., Lincoln Nebraska 68520 U.S.A. .

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