I didn’t know you, and I likely never bumped into you, but I imagine you’re a lot like my neighbor’s son, Ben. Eighteen years old, he joined the military right out of high school. Ben actually suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder … because he saw things. Hard things, horrible things and one of them was losing you.
So, today, for Ben and me and everybody else in this blessed country that is able to sip hot coffee and read this letter, I want to say thank you. From the bottom of my heart … thank you for today. For the chance to sit and watch the moon trade places with the sun early this morning. To see the Texas sky painted all pink and orange and blue. It’s breathtaking. And I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to enjoy it.
Thank you for making your vocation visiting and living in places I never have to see. And for stepping into violent and unstable situations just for me. Places halfway around the world where all the rules are challenged and changed. Places that don’t look at all like what I enjoy every single day.
Whether I’m walking the streets of my neighborhood at dusk or standing barefoot in that lovely space I call my front yard, I feel protected here. And a big part of that is because you were off doing your job on the other side of the world in a very insecure, unstable place.
Today I’ll hug my kids and my husband. I’ll share a meal with them and I’ll never once question our security. So thank you for safeguarding my family. But I do want you to know that when we gather at the table, I’ll remember we’re all safely hemmed in because of your sacrifice.
Hemmed in because you stormed the centers of certain conflict to shield and guard us. Oh, thank you.
Today when my family gathers, we’ll say prayers for your family. Because your family thinks of you way more than more once a year. They daily miss you at their table, wistful for your smile, aching for one more hug.
Though I didn’t know you, I want to thank you for being a most loving friend. For laying down your life for me.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
I know you won’t come back to us but you won’t be forgotten.