February 2024

A Life Laid Down

The first time I saw a picture of my mother’s father, I thought it was mom with short hair. We had just moved into a new house, and I was “helping” in ways that only a seven-year-old can. It was a lovely picture of his head and shoulders in a polished wooden frame with bowed glass. I was quite taken with it and had about a hundred questions because I didn’t recall anyone ever saying anything about the pretty man. Mom’s only answer: “That was my father. I never knew him. He died in World War II when he was eighteen years old.”

I tried off and on over the years to find out more about him, but my mother’s mother was strangely reticent to share. She had married “pop” when mom was a little girl and had another girl and two boys and led a full and purposeful family life. But I wondered from time to time, probably because I was always a bit of a romantic, if her brief first marriage so tragically cut short by the war had been a deep and passionate one and the grief had never truly left her. So, she kept all these things in her heart.

Meme went to be with Jesus a few years ago, and as we were going through her papers, we found his service number. My husband, a military man himself, decided to see what he could find out. He spent months researching and studying documented reports and was able to piece together where this young man had served, how he died and what honor had been bestowed upon him. Things my mom never knew.

It took three years of writing requests, providing what details we had and working with the Navy, four Senators and three Congressmen to obtain a measure of closure and resolution.

Today my grandfather was honored as my mother was formally presented with the Purple Heart in memory of her father’s ultimate sacrifice. We were all deeply moved by this affirmation of a life laid down, and we see the hand of a redemptive God in this particular expression, “Well done.” A legacy that I and my siblings intend to pass on to our children and theirs and beyond.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” (Psalm 116:15 NKJV)

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NKJV)

Until next week, beloved, remember Him who laid His life down for you.

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