Memorial Day- Forever Changed in My Life

Originally written 5/23/2014. It’s been almost ten years now. Matt is Never Forgotten

When I was a kid, I was a “June Bug” in the Girl Scouts. I remember on a Memorial Day we put flags on the grave stones of the veterans. I had no idea what the fuss was all about, all the flags everywhere, and a day off that, for me, marked the beginning of summer. Really the holiday, throughout the years, sadly, hasn’t meant that much to me. Not until almost 3 years ago when I got the call that my nephew Matt, who was serving in the Navy as a linguistic interpreter, had been lost at sea. There was a search for him for a few days and then all hope for his return to us was lost and we were left with just our memories of a boy who turned into a man and followed hard his passion to serve our country.

Miss you Matt. You’ll always have a special place in my heart.

I didn’t get to see Matt a whole lot throughout the years. He lived in another state. On an average, I saw him once or twice a year, but that kid was always the sweetest to me. He always greeted me with a hug and excitement to see me, and when our time together passed, he would always give me a warm hug and say, “I love you, Aunt Janet.”

I have many fond memories of him. He was the cutest ring bearer in our wedding. One time during a winter storm, my brother brought him and his sister to our duplex and sledded in front of my house, just because in the the south, where he lived, there wasn’t enough snow to sled like we always got to do as kids. We went camping together in family camp outs, and there was Christmas time eating goodies and playing games with Great Grandpa.

Matt at my wedding. Such a cutie.

    The last time I saw Matt was at the celebration of my parents 50th anniversary.  He was excited about his first time out to sea, in the Navy.  When we had to leave to go home, he made a point to get to me and give me a big hug, and as always he said, ” I love you , Aunt Janet.”  

     It was surreal going to his military funeral.  It was the first military funeral I had ever attended.  We arrived and the Freedom Riders were there, because of a threat of the possibility of Westboro Baptist showing up.  When the family walked in they representatives of the Navy saluted us, and then the 21 gun salute and the sounding of taps all that in the memory of a someone I think the most of as a kid with a big smile, blue eyes, and a warm hug. 

Matt’s Gravestone

This will mark the second Memorial Day since we have lost Matt. The meaning of the day has changed a lot for me. Now one of the white memorial stones represents someone I love, and the day of remembering has went from an excuse to barbeque to another day, like his birthday and the day he died, that sticks out as a reminder that he is gone. Now the statement, “Freedom is not Free” means a lot to me, and when I see a young man or woman in their uniform I appreciate the sacrifice they are making in putting their life on the line for my freedom.

“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” was the verse that was emphasized at his funeral. It is so true. Matt loved his family. He loved his friends. He loved his country, and most important, he loved his God. Knowing this gives me hope that He is waiting for me to finish my race here on earth, and when I finally make it home to heaven, he will be waiting there with that same big hug and greeting, and once again I will hear him say, “I love you , Aunt Janet.” In the meantime, know I will never forget you Matt. You are in my heart forever, and I love you too.

Never Forget- A Time Such as This (repost from 9/11/2013)

Never Forget… 12 years ago I turned on the TV to see what the Allergy Counts for the day would be and realized The Most Horrible Event of my lifetime had happened. I can remember going about my day stunned by how things were unfolding and wondering what kind of world I was raising my children in (ages 6,3, and 1) with such evil and heartache unimaginable. That night Rich and I stood on our back deck talking about such things. I remember finding comfort in the words of Esther 4:14 ” And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” My kids and my family were placed here in this time in history for “such a time as this”. Those words ring true today. I have to admit that it has been very difficult for me to read the news lately. The condition I see our nation in and the decisions being made in the leadership of it are at times frightening, but my hope is not in who is president and in congress or in what events may be happening around me. My hope is in God. When 9/11 happened for a short time there was a heightened spiritual awareness that occurred and people were turning to God in prayer more than ever. Our leaders held public prayer asking God for help. My prayer today as I reflect on 9/11 is that God would once again have mercy on our Nation and bring revival to His Church so that the Light of His Hope would spread into a world in such darkness and without hope… Never Forget what happened and Never Forget Who we turned to that day.