Remembering, with Thanks
This weekend we thank those who have served our country, giving time, commitment, sometimes their lives in order that we could remain free. While I appreciate all who have served honorably, I am thinking especially today of our World War II veterans, who are slowly leaving us. My brother-in-law, Wally Loewen, is among those. Wally passed away just over a week ago at the age of 95, joining his Savior, Jesus Christ, his beloved wife Esther and their son Paul, both of whom preceded Wally in death three years ago.
And while I was raised in a conscientious objector tradition among peace-loving Mennonites, I respect and appreciate all who served in a variety of ways to maintain our freedom to worship, think, and speak freely. That thanks extends beyond the service men and women to the families who prayed, believed, hoped, loved, and sometimes buried them.
My husband believed it was his responsibility to serve his country, joined the Army, and trusted God to place him where he should be. Billeted in the Medical corps, Don went to sanitary technician school, where he learned how to keep food, hospitals and fields sanitized to inhibit the spread of disease. In chauffeur school, he also learned to drive all sorts of transport vehicles. During and after the end of the war, Don spent sixteen months in Okinawa, working primarily with mosquito abatement to prevent malaria spreading among the troops and on the island.
His older brother, Wally, went into alternative service where he made prosthetic limbs for returning servicemen. When Wally was transferred to Camp Barkley near Abilene, Texas, his new bride Esther didn’t know where he’d been sent. Determined to start her marriage WITH her husband, Esther persisted until she learned Wally’s new posting. She promptly boarded a bus and followed, surprising him on her arrival. She repeated that persistence when he was transferred to Ogden, Utah. Gutsy lady, committed to her man and her marriage.
There’s an even greater freedom that Jesus came to give us. Galatians 5:1 states “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” His sacrifice frees us from the burden and power of sin and guilt, from the necessity of following a set of rules that bind us rather than setting us free. His atonement brings us into relationship with the God of the universe, Savior, Lord.
So this weekend, my thanks are first to Jesus Christ, who set me free from the power of sin and death; and also to those men and women who have faithfully and honorably served our country to maintain the freedoms we still enjoy.
Who are you remembering and honoring this weekend?