I travelled up Saturday to visit with my family over the weekend and returned this evening. The much-anticipated family cookout was cancelled for today because of threatening rain. However, my parents, I, and my brother and his wife enjoyed a lunch of barbecued chicken and brisket, cooked on my brother’s pit.

Today being Memorial Day, I attended the remembrance ceremony in Moulton, the county seat of my native Lawrence County. The event was held in the county courthouse and led by members of the local American Legion. I try to attend this event every year if I am within travelling distance of home.Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

I was happy to see family and friends: a high school classmate who is involved in local law enforcement and emergency services; an older friend of my father’s who had, in years past, been involved in horse trading and riding–I was able to greet him but I’m not sure if he recognized me; an Army chaplain I met briefly at last year’s remembrance ceremony; and my 92-year old great uncle and his wife.

My high school friend and I chatted for a few moments. His wife recently learned that she is with child and they were both very happy. I gave him my card and we promised to catch up soon.

My great uncle is always a delight to be around. He is a bit hard of hearing and requires my great aunt to translate for him sometimes. His brother is on the list of Lawrence Countians killed in action (KIA) in World War II. I don’t recall seeing a picture of Uncle Delmer other than the one on his headstone; but, those who speak of him always recount that he was a wonderful person, well-liked by all, until his life was ended at 25. Sometimes, reflecting on what little I know about him, I am saddened. But I know that his life on earth was exchanged for a place before a greater Lawgiver and Judge than the Reichstag ever entertained–a Judge far more capable of administering justice than Hitler and all his minions, or even the jurists of Nuremberg.

I don’t immediately recognize any other names on the list of those KIA. There are names that sound familiar because of their similarities to other people I know: I wonder if A of World War I is related to B of my first cousin’s paternal family; or, if C of World War II is related to D, one of my high school teachers by the same name; etc. I hope that the families of these honored dead don’t forget them. I hope that I never do, either.

So many wars fought and so much blood shed for freedom. Let us not forget those who recently sacrificed their lives, also, for our sake; let us offer prayers of remembrance and thanksgiving. And, let us not forget those in harm’s way, such as my friends who are now in Afghanistan, and the soldiers I trained with last summer who are in Iraq.