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Religious Reflections

Remember the fallen

BY KAREN HELSEL

This weekend often seems to be celebrated more as the beginning of summer vacation than a day of remembrance. As school winds down and the weather warms, Memorial Day is the sign!

Let the camping begin; take the cover off the pool, and set up the barbecue.

But let's not forget-this year especially-those who have given their lives serving our country. We don't have to agree with the war in Iraq to remember people who have fought or are fighting in the name of the U.S. and other countries. We can and must honor those who serve and those who have fallen.

Perhaps you saw the internet story and photos of a Marine sergeant traveling to Chicago. He was in dress blues with a folded flag. When asked if he was heading home, he replied, "No sir."

"Well, are you heading out then?"

"No, sir. I'm escorting a Marine home."

He went on to explain the Marine was killed in Iraq and he was honored to be traveling with the body. Although he did not know the Marine, he felt a bond between them. Upon landing, the pilot stopped short of the gate and made this announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to note we have the honor of having Sergeant Steeley of the U.S. Marine Corps on this flight. He is escorting a fallen comrade home to his family. Please remain in your seats when we open the forward door, and allow Seargeant Steeley to deplane and receive his fellow soldier. We will then turn off the seatbelt sign."

A sense of reverence could be felt by everyone on board.

I encouage us this Memorial Day to remember others who have fallen, and let our remembering call us to action on behalf of: ...a teen who has fallen, feels hopeless and is contemplating taking his or her own life. ...a former Christian who has become disillusioned with the organized church and fallen away from his or her spiritual roots. ...an executive who has played the game so long, and has fallen away from his or her values and the knowledge of right and wrong. ...a spouse who has fallen, can't face confessing a huge betrayal, and simply walks away.

As we think about those who have fallen in war, may we remember there is a spiritual battle under way as well. May we hold each other up, pray for each other, strengthen each other, and help our brothers and sisters to stand.

Karen Helsel is the pastor of the Sunnyside Church of God.

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