Even the sun looked ceremonial, wearing a circular rainbow-like halo as it shined brightly over the Lake Superior beach at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 29. A slight breeze blew puffs of white clouds across the beautiful blue sky at Little Sand Bay, 13 miles north of Bayfield WI. Scores of uniformed veterans joined the Marine honor guard waiting quietly on the shore to honor their fallen comrade with military rites. Clusters of civilians waited respectfully nearby. When the rumble of the Patriot Guard cycles announced the approach of the funeral motorcade, the veterans and Marine honor guard snapped to attention.
One day short of 46 years after Merlin Allen was killed in a fiery helicopter crash in Vietnam, the recently-identified remains of the young Marine were returned for burial to the hometown he left at age 20.
I was there by chance, having heard about it in Bayfield the previous day. At 7 a.m., we parked at the deserted high school where the funeral was going to be held. We watched, alone, as the Patriot Guard escorted the hearse and they saluted as the tiny box and folded flag were carried into the school before they planted the flags along the street. I decided then that I wanted to attend the military rites at Little Sand Bay after the service.
Standing at the beach later in the morning under that beautiful sky, my heart overflowed with gratitude. I wasn’t really there for Merlin Allen as much as for all those other guys — the ones that never had a parade or an honor guard or an escort or their name on a wall. The ones with the scars, whether on the inside or outside. The ones who were there on the beach and the ones who weren’t. I hoped that somehow they will all feel that these honors are gratitude for their sacrifice; the tears are heartfelt embraces for their pain.
Here are some of the things that fill me with gratitude this month, in addition to that incredible day in Bayfield:
• Rain that is relieving some of our drought
• Dry homes that shelter us from the rain
• Sun that is making everything green and lush
• Family time and kids that stay an extra day
• Friends with whom we can pray and play
• Seeing fields of lupine for the first time
• Spotting a sand hill crane family
• Having access to excellent medical care
• Living in a country that has resources for road construction
• Volunteers who give quietly, joyfully and consistently
• Being able to read, and the great things available to us for reading
Do you keep a gratitude journal? If not, give it a try beginning tonight. Take a few moments to reflect on the day and write down what you’re grateful for that day. Even if the day didn’t quite meet your expectations, or if you felt kind of lousy, discipline yourself to find at least two things that you can be grateful for. At the end of the month, you will be surprised by the overflowing cup of your life!
In closing this month, I share a prayer credited to Bobby Richardson, second baseman for the NY Yankees in the late 50s and early 60s, who was called upon to pray at a meeting of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes:
Your will, nothing more,
nothing less, nothing else.
Tag(s): Newsletter Meditations