In what I hope will become my debut novel, the hero, Jesse, wears a memorial bracelet to honor someone who was killed serving in Afghanistan. (That someone just happens to be the heroine's husband, but that's another show...). Jesse's bracelet features prominently throughout the book, tying hero and heroine together in unexpected ways.
I, too, have a memorial bracelet. This slender circle of steel honors a dear childhood friend, 1LT Michael R. Adams, who died in Iraq in 2004.
Michael was born to be a soldier. A leader. Always an overachiever, he made Eagle Scout at sixteen and graduated from West Point, after which he became an armor officer. His unit deployed to Iraq in 2003, and he got to live out his calling. He told his parents in an email that he had the best job in the world, and he couldn't believe he got paid for it.
His greatest fear, I'm told, was that he'd lose one of the men entrusted to his command. He didn't. They all came home safe.
All of them except for him.
Michael was killed as his convoy departed Iraq for the United States. For home. He died instantly in what amounted to a tragic traffic accident. His mission accomplished, he bypassed his earthly home for his real one. His eternal, heavenly one.
Michael loved the outdoors. He loved to hunt and fly fish. He listened to classical music. He was a military history major and dreamed of writing books about the Vietnam War. He was great with words, had a wicked sense of humor, and also a strong faith. His favorite Bible verse was John 3:16. He used it in his email address, his personal web page...it was a part of his identity. Fitting, then, that he went to be with Jesus on March 16th. 3/16.
For me, Memorial Day will always be about Michael and all the countless others like him who wrote a blank check to the United States. He knew the potential cost, and he was glad to pay it. As John 15:13 says, greater love has no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends. So, this weekend, take a moment to pause and thank God for those brave men and women who have paid the ultimate price. Pray for their families and loved ones who still mourn their loss.
And praise Him for all the many ways He has used those people, and continues to use them, even after they have finished their mission.