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I enjoyed watching my youngest son spin his rifle with the drill
team with arms from Monterey High. He did a good job. He amazes me with
his ability to spin that thing. But throughout the festivities of the day,
I kept thinking about the opening ceremonies and the impact a stranger
had on me that day.
He snapped to attention as the flag was posted and the Public Address
System began to play the National Anthem. My eyes alternated between the
flag and the old sailor as I sang along with the music. The flag, as always
musters up warm thoughts for me-4th of July picnics, baseball games, saying
the pledge of allegiance as a child. I always stand respectively, with
my hand over my heart as the National Anthem plays and have very low tolerance
for people talking or treating the moment casually. But the way this man
stood showed more than respect, it betrayed a lifestyle of love, devotion
The Cadets of the JROTC below his position in the stands stood in a
similar way, but they looked stiff and uncomfortable. They were embarking
on a journey that this man had returned from. I never spoke to the man
to find out his story, I don't know what his eyes had seen or what horrors
he repressed. I don't know if he bore any wounds, mental or physical because
of his service. I never found out if his stories were sad or funny, hard
to talk about or if they flowed like honey, but I'm sure of one thing-I'm
sure he had a story to tell.
Looking at the flag though his eyes, made mine mist up a little bit.
I come from a long line of civilians-people who have enjoyed the freedom
that others have fought to provide. I'm not saying this man loves his country
anymore than I do, but I am saying he's paid a greater price than I have
and for that he is due my respect and gratitude. And today, his shipmates
that didn't return home deserve being remembered.
Read the sermon
that corresponds to this devotional.