Recently I was asked by a widow to lead a simple service of remembrance at the grave of her husband buried in Arlington Cemetery. It was the one year anniversary of his death. As I walked to the grave site, I noticed several family members at various graves paying honors and grieving at their loss.
Walking by one grave was a young woman and several other family members and friends placing a blanket on the grave so the wife could sit. A wheelchair was there with a young Marine who had no legs. He slowly lifted himself up by his arms and sat down on the blanket. The wife gently stroked the tombstone and wept. I positioned myself by the tombstone where I was to conduct the service. The family gathered and we began. There were tears, smiles of memory, and solemn looks as I shared love, hope, and faith.
After I concluded I turned back toward the other graves and to my surprise, every eye of multiple families in the area was watching me and had been listening to my words. There were tears, smiles, and silent mouthing of "thank you."
I was so moved by the moment. I slowly went back to my car and noticed the Marine slowly lift himself up back into his wheelchair while the young wife slowly folded the blanket to depart. When I came close, she reached out and took my hand and through her tears, she smiled and thanked me for my words that meant so much in her pain.
As I drove away tears streamed down my face as I prayed, "Dear Lord, hold them in your hands."
Prayer for all the fallen: Master, Help me to never forget the price that is beyond imagination paid by our warriors and their families. Humble me so that I always feel their pain, joy, and sacrifice. I pray they rest with honor silently on guard for You. Help me to be worthy. Protect and heal the hearts of their families and comrades. Amen.
C. Ray Bailey, Chaplain (BG) USA, Deputy Chief of Chaplains
Chaplain Bailey is an elder in the Central Texas Annual Conference. He is an endorsed Army Chaplain where he has served for 33 years. Thank you for your service Chaplain Bailey.