Thanksgiving — an odd topic for the middle of May in the middle of an economic downturn that has been dubbed a deep recession.
Even stranger perhaps, when you consider that as a nation and as individuals, we face military engagement in the Middle East with no end in sight; when rainfall exceeds norms by a third, keeping farmers from planting the corn and soybeans on which their livelihood depend; and when a nasty virus threatens the lives of those it infects.
A friend shared with me some Memorial Day cartoons. The first one shows a backyard barbecuer checking out the fare on his charcoal grill. He ticks off the menu — hotdogs, bratwurst and hamburgers, and then wonders: “Is there anything I forgot?” as he waits for the dogs, the brats and burgers to finish cooking.
In answer to his question, the artist has filled the smoke rising from the charcoal with images of soldiers — some from World War I, some from World War II, some from Vietnam, and some from Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. Some men, some women. Some Army, some Air Force, some Navy, some Marines. Some old, some not so old, some very young. All willing to sacrifice themselves in the fight for freedom.
The backyard chef seems unaware of the message rising heavenward in the smoke.
A few frames down, in another cartoon, a boy sits at a table, head bowed, hands folded.
"Thanksgiving," the words say, "is a day when we pause to give thanks for the things we have." In the same cartoon, next to a couple of dog tags displayed against a plain background are these words: "Memorial Day is a day when we pause to give thanks to the people who fought for the things we have."
This week we were reminded just how costly that fight can be as a Delavan family took part in a ceremony naming the stretch of Illinois Route 122 from Delavan to Stanford the Ron Gebur Memorial Highway in memory of their soldier who gave his life in Operation Iraqi Freedom, a war meant to help deter those who would attack America and to help the Iraqi people obtain and maintain freedom from an evil tyrant.
It’s a war that goes on — less fiercely than before, but still deadly — still demanding people willing to fight for freedom, one of most precious things we have.
We weep with the Gebur family as they honor their fallen soldier and we share their pride in his selflessness.
These are poignant times we live in. All around us things are changing. Soon nothing will be the same as it was.
As Memorial Day approaches, we need to remember with thanksgiving to God the men and women who fought for freedom in the past, who are fighting for freedom today, and who will fight for freedom in the future.
Page 2 of 2 - “Yea, though I walk through the valley of death,” the psalmist says, “I will fear no evil. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (Psalm 23:4-6, KJV)
We can look to these words for comfort as we contemplate war and honor the men and women who gave their lives on the battlefield.
Judy Tisdale may be reached at email@example.com.