Thank the Good Lord for our Veterans
Words and Images by Sharon McKeeman
My grandmother’s house was lined with pink and white. Pink wallpaper, white carpets, gold accents, and a touch of black, with everything perfectly in its place. Till the day she died, when you stepped into her living room or lounged by the pool in her backyard, you felt as if you had been transported to Las Vegas in the 1960s. She liked to keep things classy.
She had been stationed in Las Vegas, Germany, and Japan with my Grandpa before the Air Force brought them to Wichita, Kansas. That was before he disappeared.
Seven years she lived hoping he would come home from Vietnam. Seven years she traveled to Washington, DC to ask them to bring the POWs back. Seven years she prayed to the good Lord every night before she went to bed and thanked him all day long for a life well lived.
And then they found his body, shot down, injured and buried quick in a POW camp. And still she prayed to the good Lord every night and thanked him for every moment lived with the love he had given her. She joined our hands, a family full around her table, and praised the good Lord with every meal we shared—she who'd had everything ripped away from her. She never held an empty seat at the table for her husband, instead filling every one with friends and family and whomever needed her graciousness. When I brought a young military pilot for Christmas she didn’t flinch, and when he proposed under her roof she smiled to see life repeat itself. Because all she ever knew was hope, the kind only the good Lord can give.
I’ve lived thirteen years now married to a man serving his country. I know more of the war my Grandpa fought, and I have glimpsed a bit of my Grandmother’s lonely courage as my family has lived through a few deployments, seven and nine months separated by war. I have known friends injured, killed, divorced, and soldiering on. I don’t understand, much less agree, with most of politics, but I know my husband was made to stand and fight back what lies in the dark and tries to harm us. I know that he would die so that his children could gather 'round their table, hands held, and the good Lord praised for all the years to come.
And I know that ours is the easy story. My challenges have been family missed and lives uprooted as we move and move again. But her story was the hardest kind, and I’m surrounded by others living with shrapnel and gravestones. Not just of wounded warriors and missing loved ones, but of relationships broken under the strain one carries when facing life and death. Of careers, time, and children lost, and the quiet battlefront that is beyond words.
So let’s lift up each brave soul that steps into uniform, and every mother, father, wife, daughter, and son that loves them and helps bear the weight of the burden they shoulder for us all. Let’s thank the good Lord for them and for each moment we are gifted to live because someone walked a lonely watch for us.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2)