This is my Grandad’s grave, who was killed during the Korean conflict. We go every year on Memorial Day to visit his grave, in part because I never really knew much about him, but also because I wanted my sons to know where they came from.
My grandfather’s life has been nothing but a story of our family’s past. His military photo also hangs on the wall in our home. Traditionally, this has been how I knew him, but honestly, it was all I knew about him for most of my life. No one ever talked about him, as he was the silent man whom my Grandmother was married to when my mother and her sister were children. My aunt was a preschooler when he died, and my mother was nearly 10.
But, the past could not be buried.
They say that blood runs thicker than water. While I don’t know that I can personally vouch for that in all circumstances, I do think that eventually, we seek out our physical roots. God created us to be filled with His Spirit, but he created us physically from a specific genealogy.
As in the case of my Grandfather, we don’t always physically stay connected to our physical families and their members, God often shows the world that He marked some of us to rise from the ashes of our circumstances.
And so it was, I could not simply leave my Grandfather’s past to a simple idea that he was my mother’s father and the husband of my Grandmother. After all, I held his military photo in my hand, and I knew there was more to him. So, I searched out the truth.
A generation lost a father and a grandfather.
One thing about war and sending off our troops to fight on the battle field, is that it leaves a fatherless generation. I have seen it in my own family of 9 grandchildren they just have a hunger to know who their grandfather was. My mother suffered from his death and her mother’s grief, and my aunt does not even remember who her father was. When that was passed down, we all suffered from absent abusive fathers and a grandfather-less generation.
Even if men survive and return home to their families, they became different men on the battlefield. They carry deep scars that the rest of us struggle to understand, and far too many suffer with addiction and homelessness. The rest of us suffer from the pain of not being able to reach them emotionally.
But, God restores the hurting
While those of us who never fought in a war cannot understand what it is like for these men, what we can understand is that they need to heal from their physical and emotional scars. We can help physically support them, but only God can spiritually and emotionally restore them through the Holy Spirit.
I am not for once suggesting that we can fix them. We all have our physical and emotional limits, and we aren’t God. But, what we can do is follow the Holy Spirit ourselves, and reach out as the Spirit leads.
God also restores the fatherless.
No father is perfect, but some men truly cannot reach out of themselves to be fathers. Some go into war with unhealed emotional scars, and come out worse than before. Then there are those men who just struggle to overcome the realities of war and how it contrasts with everyday life. A self-centered man simply cannot be the father he needs to be.
I don’t care if you think you aren’t called to serve military men and/or women, if you are a child or grandchild of one, then you are on some level. For a long time, I ran from it myself, just unable to talk about it, just like my mother passed down to me.
I did not know where my grandfather was buried, and at first, I didn’t even know his name. This is how deep the silence went, but God stirred up in me, a need to know who this man was. So, I researched and found my Grandfather’s grave and began taking my sons to see it every year, telling them what I know.
But, I came to the conclusion that God numbers our days, and He numbered my Grandfather’s days too. He showed me that even though my Grandfather is dead and my own father is addicted and abusive (and a veteran), that God is my Father. He cares for me more than they do, and He makes a way for my needs.
While yes, I needed an earthly father, God provided my needs through many men.
So, love a soldier or a veteran for Memorial Day
Many are called today to fight for our freedoms, and many will return home. Some will generally know what they are stepping in to. Most really won’t, but will still agree that someone had to fight. This is the truth about our country. My Grandad died for our freedoms in the Korean War. Perhaps you lost your father, or someone else close to you.
Maybe you know a service person currently in the military, carrying out their duty. Reach out to them and let them know they are loved and appreciated. Most of all, assure them that they are loved by God.
Their sacrifice has been our freedom in this country.