Panel 40 w, Line 51

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Everyone has a story. While experiences and similar life events forge friendships that hold fast, there is also uniqueness about each person’s story. I’ve been privileged to share many of my stories over the past two and a half years through social media. One of the responses I routinely hear is that my story reminded someone of their story. That is always a feel-good for me.

 

There is value in periodically pausing to remember the building blocks that have contributed to our lives. Everything we’ve experienced plays a part in who we are today and who we are in the process of becoming. It is an exciting journey and none of it should be taken for granted.

 

As a side note, I’m not suggesting that we should live in the past. I am not saying that at all. Sadly, I’ve known people who longed for the good ole days and seemingly had great difficulty adjusting to new or different circumstances. Often the Achilles heel or bottleneck serving as a catalyst for someone giving up on life or being left frozen in time is difficulty negotiating the grief process.

 

Life isn’t filled with easy answers and to some degree it all becomes a faith walk. If you’ll remember, at one point God reminded Job that despite appearances, his life was not over because of the losses he had incurred. Job still had reason for hope because the creator had the ability to come along side him at the point of need. God still had the wherewithal to pour meaning and purpose in his life. Just as God had previously filled his life with good things, He still had the ability to continue to do so. God had not been defeated by the difficulties and losses in Job’s life.  He  could make all things new.

 

One of the groups of individuals that often amaze me is the sons and daughters of men who didn’t come back from Vietnam. Despite the fact that many of them have little or vague memory of their father, they honor the start in life they were given by the hero that didn’t return by their continued devotion and love.

 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve met many in that group who today as adults live with a resiliency and enthusiasm for life that one would ever know from appearances that their life had ever been touched by loss. They are incredible folks who love life and move forward with courage and confidence.

 

One of the building blocks that enriches and strengthens the men and women they’ve become is the solidarity and support they contribute and receive from others who have walked where they have walked. It is an environment where two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.

 

Yesterday morning, through use of Facebook, I sent a birthday greeting to a friend. In her response to me, she included a link to a published article she had written about her first experience of visiting the Nation’s Capitol and the Vietnam Memorial Wall. She is a daughter whose dad’s name is etched in stone.

 

I was both impressed and touched by her writing. Hers is a powerful story and yet it is in part the story of every family member who’s loved one’s name is chiseled in that memorial wall. She shared the experience of being on a guided tour with a small group who she had met a few months earlier. They were members of the National League of POW/MIA Families. She writes: “There was a common denominator between us…all of our fathers were Missing in Action from the Vietnam War.”

 

Since I haven’t yet asked her permission to share her story, I’ll not provide more details until I do. Let me simply say it again, “I was both impressed and touched by her writing”. I am grateful to know her as friend.

 

She shared the article with me not knowing I was on my way to the Washington. I responded back concerning the article: “You hit that one out of the ball park! I couldn’t get through it without a tear or two in my eyes. Beautifully written and carries heartfelt emotion as though it were precious cargo. Thank you. I am grateful for your friendship…Have a great birthday. I am headed to Washington. I will be standing before the Wall before nightfall.”

 

She responded: “Please visit daddy…40w, line 51”

 

How could I not? It was later than I anticipated, but following dinner with a friend from Waco who is in Washington for the same meeting, I invited him to accompany me to the Wall. He responded, “I’ll gladly go, but can’t we do that after our meeting tomorrow?” I said, “No, I’ve got to go today. I am on assignment. I’ve been asked “Please visit daddy.” After all, it is his daughter’s birthday. How could I say “No?” I couldn’t.

 

The wall looks different under the cloud of darkness. If anything it looks more massive. The list of names goes on and on. With each of those names, there are scores of family members who have the legacy of being provided a building block that will in part define their life. Everything we’ve experienced plays a part in who we are today and who we are in the process of becoming. It is an exciting journey and none of it should be taken for granted.

 

All My Best!

Don

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