John 15:12-13 (New Living Translation)
This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
I grew up hearing stories about my paternal Grandfather’s experiences in the Navy during World War II. My “Grampa Doc” — Dr. William Wallace Hall, Jr. — was a master storyteller, and even the most frightening episodes had an air of humor and suspense. One story that stands out in my memory is of his first solo surgery: a “routine” appendectomy.
The very young Dr. Bill Hall was brought onto his ship just out of medical school as an assistant physician. But when his senior officer was transferred to another ship, he suddenly found himself the head doctor in charge. One evening, a young man was brought into the infirmary with nausea and an intense pain in his side. Grampa immediately diagnosed it as acute appendicitis, and he knew what needed to happen. Only problem? This young doc had never performed the surgery by himself before!
He contacted the captain and suggested that the ship return to port, so that the sick man could receive treatment in more experienced hands. Grampa was told, in no uncertain terms, that this was not even remotely possible, and that the captain considered him to be more than capable of doing what was necessary.
Grampa put on a brave face in front of his patient, then raced off into the corner to quickly consult the pictures and instructions in his textbooks. He informed the captain that the emergency surgery was about to take place, and the course of the enormous ship was altered to minimize the rolling in the waves during the surgery.
Happily, the procedure was a success, Grampa told us with a smile.
I loved listening to him tell his stories. But, as I grew up, I began to realize that my beloved Grampa had told us kids only the “happy ending” stories. There were, undoubtedly, many men and women who did not make it through the surgeries. There were even more who never even made it to the infirmary. There were many letters that had to be written to grieving spouses, parents, and children.
Today, on Memorial Day, we stop to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives in wars and conflicts throughout time and across the world. We pray for their families and loved ones, and give thanks for their service and selflessness. Today, we say thank you, God bless you and keep you.
How can you honor today those who have given of themselves for you?