Late in the morning, I attended the funeral of the husband of P, good friend of mine. This man, I had known casually for the last 4 years. The last four years of his life being a mere shadow of the life he'd lived in his previous 70. But I didn't know that. Not until today. After attending his funeral service and hearing of the rest of his life, I can now understand more fully how difficult these last years were for both of them during his decline.
One by one, family and friends stood at the podium and gave testimony to a packed church of G's life, what he did, and how it affected them. The eulogies given by his four boys were stirring, moving, inspirational. Let me give you an example of what kind of man he was and the legacy he left to the rest of us.
At one time, he'd worked for the gas company, being on call 24/7 to help customers with repair issues. During the middle of one night, he'd received a telephone call from an elderly woman who needed help, her heat wasn't working. After he had gotten dressed, left home, did the repair and returned home, his son asked him if he was going to charge her for the service call. To which he replied, "No son. She thinks I still work for the gas company." You see, he no longer worked for the gas company but when she called his home, he still answered, still practiced service to others, he still showed up, even when it wasn't required of him. If anyone needed help, with anything, at any time or any place, G was there to help.
He wore many hats: husband, father, firefighter, deacon, elder, painter, builder, utility worker, Navy veteran . . . but the best and most fitting hat that he wore was that of Hero. Because that is what he was to everyone who knew him. A hero.
He lived a life of service. He was a hero. Ask anyone who knew him. They'll tell you. I thought I'd somewhat known G but now realize . . . that I met him just today . . . and yes, he was a hero. He will be missed. His was a life lived in service . . . to his family, to his friends, to his community.
This afternoon, I witnessed an event reminding me of a life given in service.
For this afternoon, our community, this small town that I currently call home, did what it does well: cares for it's residents, it's own. We saluted those who are called to possibly give their lives in service.
You see, this afternoon, our community came out to give a hero's send-off to our local Army National Guardsmen, Delta Company 39th Infantry, who are being deployed to Iraq until sometime next year. So, as is so typical of this warm, welcoming, wonderful and caring community, we lined the four-mile route from the armory to the highway. Our residents came out in force: waving yellow ribbons if they weren't tied onto the fronts of businesses, waving flags if they were not on poles struck into the ground, raising signs with warm, well-wishes, waving arms, whistling, cheering, throwing kisses. The town's finest consisting of the local police and sheriff's departments led the way with motorcycle-riding veterans following right behind them, escorting the chartered buses carrying the soldiers through town. Behind the buses, traveled the families and loved-ones of the departing soldiers with messages of love and encouragement written all over their cars.
As the families and love-ones followed behind the troops, you began to notice that those inside the cars were doing the same thing that we were: crying. We cried. Cried, but tried to smile through the pain. Because we are proud of our soldiers. Because we, as a community, are more than simply that . . . we are family. Because no matter what side of the political fence each of us is on, when it comes to love and support of our troops, we are on only ONE side: their side.
Those men and women who left us today to serve overseas, far, far away from our small enclave here, are not only living a life of service, they may be called upon to GIVE their life in service.
Join me in praying for their safety, in praying for the safety of ALL who serve in our armed forces. Pray for lives that will continue to be LIVED in service, no more to be GIVEN in service. For ultimately, we are all community. Not just here in our small corner of Arkansas, but worldwide.
So, at the end of this day, I realized that although many, many bad things are happening in our world today . . . there also happened something good.