“…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” Matthew 20:28
(In honor of Memorial Day, I wish to share the reflections from Staff Sergeant Matthew Starkey now serving in the National Guard as he returned from a 2009 WWII veterans' Honor Flight to Washington DC.)
“This has been a great trip. I'm wishing I could spend another day in DC but the recruit I brought, PV2 Taylor, has his senior prom tonight and I have to get him home.
|Arlington Cemetery, Washington DC|
We saw nearly everything we wanted to see. The Capitol, White House, Washington monument, Smithsonian museum of national history, Lincoln Memorial, WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam memorials. We also saw the headquarters for nearly every department of the government. We also saw the USMC headquarters and the USMC's silent drill team.
Arlington was especially moving and we spent a great deal of time there. Saw Kennedy's grave, Audie Murphy's grave, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers and a changing of the guard ceremony. After leaving Arlington yesterday we visited the Iwo Jima memorial.
|Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Washington DC|
Of course, I can't finish this email without talking about the purpose of our trip. Each day, Thursday and Friday, at 1130 we met 12 buses full of WWII veterans. The youngest was 80 and the oldest 98. We helped unload their wheelchairs and walkers and helped them on and off the buses. And we pushed them in their wheelchairs and walked with them around the WWII monument and Arlington cemetery. We took their pictures in front of the monuments and with their buddies and returned them to their buses for the rest of the tour.
It was a humbling experience to serve the "greatest generation". Some of them were frail and nearly incapable of taking care of themselves and it took a lot of courage to embark on such an ambitious trip at their age.
Regardless, they walked as tall and proud as they could and I imagine as tall and proud as they did in 1945.
What a bunch of bs'ers though. They tell war stories like we soldiers do today and with just as much exaggeration! I'm not sure how much I can believe but it was certainly enjoyable to listen to them.
|Vietnam Memorial Wall, Washington DC|
I was very proud of Taylor. He's 18 and I was a little apprehensive about taking him. I really didn't know how he'd react to the veterans but he jumped right in and started helping. He treated all of them with respect; he talked to them and never lost sight of our purpose there. Pretty impressive for a high school kid in today's world.
And, I never heard him complain with any seriousness. We woke up early to get started on our sightseeing and walked mile after mile after mile to take it all in. (Lots of PT on this trip.) I picked him over all of my other recruits because I knew he'd be excited about traveling to a big city and working so hard on a vacation and he certainly didn't let me down. As he says, I picked him because he was so "fly"; whatever that means.
This was certainly one of the most educational and most rewarding trips I've been on. I'm really glad I finally decided to go and really glad I took the Private with me.
As I near the last phases of my military career I have been reminded of what it’s all about and why I serve. I'm proud to be an American and equally proud to serve in the defense of freedom.”
Prayer: Oh, Heavenly Father, teach us to be servants as Christ served, giving up our wants for the needs of others, humbling our hearts with Your love. Thank you for the men and women who sacrifice their lives to defend our Constitution, freedom, and liberty for our nation generation after generation. God bless them indeed. And, thank you for sending Your one and only Son as a tiny baby to deliver us from evil and defend our eternal freedom.