Over the weekend, we got word that a traveling version of the Vietnam Memorial would be at the KY Horsepark not far from our home. We made an impromptu decision to make a trip down on Saturday evening and are so glad we did.
It was just before dusk when we arrived. Flags were lining the streets and creating a walkway down to the area where the Traveling Wall was set up. There were flags in the hillside for each of the Vietnam veterans that had given their life that were from our state.
As we approached the wall we shared with the kids that each name represented a son, husband, brother, or friend of someone. Our children have never known anyone personally that lost their life in battle. The boys have never known our country to not be at war, which really makes it difficult to explain the significance of war. For them, America being at war is normal, but at the same time I am not sure it feels real.
The evening progressed with a candlelight service honoring the Goldstar Mothers. These are the women who have had children serving in the military and were killed in the line of duty. It was an honor to hear them speak and share their experiences, but even more their love for our country.
During the candlelight services, a chaplain from the military opened and closed the service in prayer while one of the Goldstar Moms led us in the singing of America, the Beautiful. I was flooded with emotion. Empathy for these moms whose sons gave of their lives for our freedom. Sadness over the reality of death that comes from war. But the emotion went beyond this.
My intent was never meant to take away from honoring those veterans whose names are engraved on the wall. But there was so much more. There was the grieving over the fact that American children across our land do not have the benefit of sharing in a similar prayer at the beginning or ending of their school day in schools across our nation. My childhood years of elementary chorus were outlined with patriot songs that beseeched God to continue blessing the United States of America and expressing gratitude for our freedoms; of which, the freedom to openly worship is scripted in the very words of our Constitution. How incredibly disheartening that we are not only stealing a right guaranteed under the Bill of Rights from our children, but that we are also robbing them of their country’s true heritage. Without heritage, what do we base the future on. We can not determine our ending spot if we no longer know where we are.
I think the most powerful moment of the entire evening was as we were walking to the car. Our daughter had become quite quiet and contemplative. She began sharing that she was honored to be a part of the candlelight service that evening. Her thoughts didn’t end there though. She continued on to say that by fighting in a major war to defend our freedoms makes these men and women great in our eyes and she is quite thankful. Her final comment really hit home.
“Mom, it doesn’t really matter if they are war heroes. Being a war hero is not enough in and of itself for them to now be in God’s presence.”
Her heart was breaking for those that we would consider having made the greatest sacrifice and how disparaging if it was all for nought with regard to their eternity.
Before leaving we shared in a prayer for we realized that there is an even greater battle being waged that has eternal consequences. If we were to add all the names of every soldier that has lost their life in battle, it would only represent a fraction of the unborn children that have lost their lives before they had the opportunity to take their first breath. An incredibly sobering reality and yet another indication that America has failed to protect her heritage and is losing her moral compass.
May we never forget!