I went to the funeral service for Sergeant Ed Bolen of Chittenango today. As I was leaving the cemetery, I saw a reporter interviewing a young man, asking his thoughts. It started me thinking. What would I have said if it had been me being interviewed? Why was I there at that graveside?
Well, I was there to be a support to some of Sergeant Bolen’s extended family members who attend our church and whom I know very well. But as I reflected, deep inside, there was clearly even more to it than that. Even without that connection, I think I would have wanted to be there. For I felt somehow compelled to express something else to this young widow and her family. I, along with many others who came, sensed it was our chance to express to all the families of the Sergeant Bolen’s of our country how we feel.
First of all, the words seem so inadequate, but, “THANK YOU!”
We are grateful for all the sacrifices that military persons and their families make to serve our country. But this sacrifice that we commemorated today is the ultimate patriotic gift, laying down one’s very life to defend the way of life and the freedoms that have been handed down to us from our forefathers—freedom of worship, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, freedom to travel, representative government, a viable court system, and so much more. As much as it is difficult for us to accept, our country has enemies who hate us, who seek to destroy us and other innocent lives with us. Since this is so, we desperately need those brave men and women like Sergeant Ed Bolen who will stand up with courage and confront the enemy for us. I was there to say from all of us – one more time, Thank you!
I was also there to say, “I will pray for you!”
As my wife and I went through the line speaking with family members we knew and those we did not know last evening, this was our encouragement, “You are in our prayers,” or, “Our church has been praying for you.” Our church maintains a large lighted picture frame at the back with pictures in it of those related to attendees who are serving in the military. We have them there to remind us to pray for them. Often in Sunday services we and many other churches pray especially for those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. We had been praying for Ed Bolen too. I was there at his services to say that we will continue to intercede for his wife, Andrea, and his Mom, Janine, and their extended family.
Finally, I wanted to help say, “We will be there for you.”
In their hour of grief, in their time of trial, this family needed to know we stood with them. I noticed with joy, for example those who stood by doorways, in halls, and by the graveside with large flags– bikers, young moms, veterans, just people like you and I who wanted to be there with this family and support them. Community support was obvious; even the school had closed for one day; every person there added their voice. All kinds of volunteers and civil servants had gathered to sing from our hearts without words as one big choir expressing in unison. “We want to be here for you in any way we can. When you need a friend, you are not alone, we will be there!”