The names of every man and woman located on the wall of the Vietnam Memorial have a story. Their lives. Their dreams. Their families left behind. These people were heroes who sacrificed their life for the sake of our country.
The lone sentinel stands guard at the Arlington cemetery. Around him are hundreds of yards of white tombstones that mark the lives of men and women who served valiantly during time of war. They, too, could tell stories. This cemetery begs each visitor to never forget.
A visit to a graveyard also makes you ponder a very important question. What will your story be?
A cemetery nearby our house has a large wrought iron gate that guards the blacktop lane that traverses through a vast well-manicured lawn. Close to the main entrance, large granite tombstones and small white monuments give notice to the lives of men and women who accumulated wealth and success during their life on earth. They stood out from the crowd in life and the stones continued to resonate their status after death.
Farther inside the cemetery, a scattering of flowers can be seen nestled against smaller headstones. Small American flags left over from Memorial Day flutter in the breeze. Effort and care to gravesites give notice that there are people on earth who still remember. There still exists a remnant who knew their voice, would recognize their face, who celebrated birthdays, holidays and anniversaries in their presence. They were loved. They are remembered.
Farther inside sits another part of the cemetery that is well guarded by huge oak trees. It isn’t pristine. Scattered tombstone weathered by rain and snow seem dark and forbearing amongst the shadows. There are no fresh flowers. Maybe a few plastic ones can be seen sticking out awkwardly from a vase. Walking through the lonely yard on a windy, overcast day, I look down closely to read one of the old plates at my feet. HANSON, Joshua. Born in September of 1874 and died in April of 1925. May he rest in peace.
Like an ancient chorus that rose in volume when the curtains open, the tombstones in this part of the cemetery seem to sing a mournful song, “Please remember me!”
There is nobody left to tell their story, to remember their faces, to recognize their laugh. Did they receive their reward? Were their pursuits on earth worth it? In the context of an eternity, our lives can be looked on as just a wisp of breath that dissipates in the cool morning air and quickly dissolves into nothingness.
Yet, our mortal life matters. In this span of life, no matter how short or long it may be, the answer to what we think our purpose in life will be determined whether we are conscious about it or not. Physical death marks an ending. What will be your beginning? Your mortal life is an opportunity to answer that question.
What is our purpose in life? What will be your story? What will be your reward?
More importantly, how will you be remembered?
God remembers. He remembers every person who ever lived. My name may not be recorded in any history book, nor remembered for accomplishing anything noteworthy. I will not be remembered as a hero with a white grave marker in Arlington National. But, that’s okay. As long as my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, nothing else really matters.
Right not, I know my name is there, because God has promised that by faith alone, Jesus will have a room prepared for me.