Today is Memorial Day 2020, a day for remembering those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. While I do not know of anyone in my family who died in the line of duty, I do have many relatives who served. For instance, My Uncle ‘Smoke,’ (and no, that is a story for another day), Howard Smoyer. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He was not wounded, per se, but he did get frostbite in his feet. The treatment of pouring hot water on the affected areas led to toe amputation and many foot problems that plagued him all his life. There was my ‘uncle’ Sam Smith, mom’s cousin. He enlisted in 1940, served in World War II and Korea, and died as a Lt. Col. in the Army. My Uncle Ray, mom’s youngest sibling, joined the Merchant Marines in 1943., served in the Pacific. Oh, and my mother was engaged when war broke out, and her fiancee was deployed from Fort Dix, NJ, and later killed in action.
My father did not serve, however. He registered for the draft in 1940. But at the time he was working for General Baking Company as a supervisor. He was 26. When America entered the war, most of the men under him were drafted or enlisted, leaving only a few employees at the company. So few in fact that the company was granted an exemption for the remaining men (I’ve heard Dad say three and five, so not many!) as “Essential Workers.” Dad went from supervising a fleet of drivers to being one of a small handful delivering bread and baked goods all over Middlesex County, NJ.
I don’t really know how Dad felt about not serving, as all his brothers did in turn, but I’m sure that there were some people who did not know the story who looked down on him for not doing so. I know that Dad always said the women and families he delivered to were always very grateful that he was there delivering what they needed. However, the recent events in the world have brought a new perspective on “Essential” work. These events have taught us (I hope) what is important and what we can do without.
Food, water, shelter – all are recognized needs for survival. But also human companionship is essential. I am going through this crazy alone in my home. Can I tell you, it stinketh? But I know there are people who pray for me, some in my family, some in my church family. Even some new, dear friends on Twitter (thank you, D.A. and N.L.) We have redefined “essential workers” to include not only healthcare professionals but the truck drivers who haul goods, the kid who stocks grocery store shelves, the warehouse worker who packages up our products, the small business owner who shifted to take out to feed you as well as provide for his own family. And for those of us who are born-again Christians, praise God that we have a president who has reaffirmed that churches are essential.
You see, we are not meant to do life alone. God himself said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” We are meant to live with and be with others, and we are especially meant and designed to be in a relationship with God. These past months have given all of us a unique opportunity to rebuild, or strengthen or begin that relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ, and get into a right relationship with God. That is what we are designed for, that is our purpose and meaning – to worship and glorify God.
On this Memorial Day, take time to reflect on things and begin. Begin thanking and remembering those who gave everything for your freedom. Then thank God for allowing you to have the opportunity to know Him. Take time to hug your nearest and dearest. And, save some hugs for those in your lives that have no one to hug them. Go out and be a blessing.