“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
I met a vet. I met Frank two days ago at a business function, 18 days before Memorial Day. We were two strangers dressed in business suits. Business topics connected us until the divine spark in our hearts led us to a more personal level. I learned Frank had a 10-year army career; three combat tours. After his discharge from the military, he then entered the corporate ranks until he decided to live his true passion and work as a counselor assisting small businesses procure new contracts. In his spare time, he is founder of a non-profit that helps black-owned business enterprises grow.
Frank’s career background, including a master’s degree under his belt, is impressive but it is not what I carried home with me after day’s end. What inspired me and imprinted my heart most was a photograph he showed me. The year: 1991. Two 19-year-old army soldiers happily nested in a jeep. I couldn’t see the photo on his phone clearly, but I espied a pair of military dog tags on the white guy, Frank’s best bud in the army. In fact, they were so apparent to me, a proud sister of two army veterans, I could hear their ting in my mind.
“It’s my birthday today. That’s the day he was killed. Every year on my birthday, I send this picture of us to everybody I know,” Frank explained.
For over two decades, Frank celebrates his birthday by celebrating his friend’s memory. Not his friend’s death, mind you, but his life.
“We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.”
Season after season, Frank’s ritual has ensured that his friend is not forgotten and accents his short life with meaning
Even though I only spoke to Frank for less than a half hour on his birthday, what impressed me most was his loyalty. His courage. Most of all his faith. Despite experiencing trial and anguish in his young life, Frank’s pilgrimage is gallant and glorified. I am certain, he has felt shattered a million times over, stumbled and fell, but always managed to pick up and re-bandage the pieces of his heart if only to bring promise and hope of a new day to others.
And what of his friend? His friend is alive, always young, brimming, too, with a promise and hope that tings from heaven. He is relishing in every glorious breath Frank has taken in all the years that have passed since the early 90s; all along whispering to Frank: “Soldier on.”
Stay tuned!…until next time…walk by faith not by sight!