Sunday, May 29, 2005
respect for those who have fallen
It happened today during the third worship service. At my church, the 12:15 third service is a smaller service most commonly attended by the younger people at my church... high schoolers, college students, and recent post-grads like myself.
The elderly Chinese man that most of us know only as "Uncle Bill", a frequent attender of the service, had something to say during the open sharing time. He walked slowly up to the microphone in careful, measured strides, and shook hands with the pastor along the way. When he reached the front, he turned to face the congregation, he quietly cleared his throat, and began speaking.
At first, his voice was filled with friendliness as he spoke of his affection for the church and all the people he's known at it. Then he became more serious as he began to speak about tomorrow, about this Memorial Day being about the 50th anniversary since the end of the war in 1945. And then his face softened, and his expression was filled with melancholy as he began to say names of people.
My mind struggled to recognize the names. But from the way he spoke the names, the were names of friends or people he cared about. Some of them are names of young men whose futures were cut short while they were only my age. Other names are the names of those who came back after the war to change America, like Wing Luke. He urged us to remember those men too. The wars they fought in are wars that my generation only knows through stories, television, movies, and video games.
By now, some people in service are stunned. They're not sure of what to make of what Uncle Bill has said and what he's still saying. I watch as some people yawn, while others roll their eyes, or loudly sigh, exasperated at what they might perceive as an old man's ramblings. I can feel my annoyance at their indifference; I can feel my jaw tighten at the thought of their complete lack of respect.
I wonder how many "young people" in my generation will enjoy the Memorial Day without giving a single thought to the significance to the holiday, or to the sacrifices of the men and women who served before our time or who serve even now.
I hope I wasn't the only person actually listening to Uncle Bill.
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