A couple of days ago I got into an elevator with a gentleman. The door opened on my floor I saw a man in the furthest corner to my right next to the panel where the buttons are pushed. We exchanged greetings. As I looked at him I noticed a reference to military service on the baseball style cap pulled firmly down on his head. I immediately thanked him for his service. As I turned back to see how close we were to the lobby level where we both would exit he responded, “Thank you!” As the door opened to our floor he added, “That means a lot to me, it really does.” Just before exiting the elevator I looked back. Even though his eyes were covered with dark glasses along with most of his face by the hat, in that fleeting moment I was able to see the invisible.
I felt like we had both entered a place in time where all that he had experienced in the military was in that moment. All of the: hurt, pain, sacrifice, discouragement, fear, anger, frustration, despair, regret, was there for a flash; in the elevator with the two of us. I was allowed to see the invisible. I felt I could see him holding back tears that were eminent and as spontaneous as a tropical rain. The droplets appear unexpectedly, the wetness is felt and before one can prepare for more they have evaporated without a trace.
We said our goodbyes and as quickly as our encounter began it had ended. He has remained on my mind. I have remembered other encounters where I experienced men and women that have served in the military. I live in an area where there are numerous military families.
Think about those that you know that have served in the military. Think about their families. What about those that pass you on the street or you see in the supermarket that have served in the military?
Who are the individuals that have been invisible? They performed and trained for duties that I cannot even imagine. Some returned to the United States wounded, either physically mentally or both. Some returned with shame and heavy burdens about what they witnessed, about what they had done. Some sexually assaulted by fellow personnel. Some returned to experience being treated with such disrespect by those whom they shielded back home from the horrors of war. Their lives and livelihoods were sacrificed to punctuate the FREEDOM we enjoy.
According to Veterans Healing Farm, a 501 (c)(3) Federal Tax Exempt Organization:
“Transitioning from military life back into the civilian sector is a challenge all veterans face. Unfortunately, many veterans lack the adequate tools and resources needed to meet this challenge. The results are an alarmingly high rate of veteran suicide, depression, divorce, homelessness, and substance abuse.”
Twenty-two veterans commit suicide per day; see the invisible.
I challenge you to press beyond the advertising for sales, the activities that form barriers between us or your ideas about the right kind of war, and see the invisible. Seek out and find at least one person today or tomorrow that has served in the military, past or present. Think about the freedoms you enjoy and give them a heartfelt thank you! That may mean that you spend time in a brief conversation. You may make an overdue phone call. You may volunteer your time at on organization in your town that serves veterans. You may come up with a creative idea to do something magnificent!
Whatever it may be find a way now, to honor those that have served in some branch of the military. See the invisible. Do not allow this Memorial Day weekend to pass without you, personally given honor through a loving gesture to those willing to put their very life on the line for you!
Perhaps this weekend we can impact the numbers. We can change the suicide rate. We can lessen the feelings of hopelessness. We can see the invisible. We can express the love of God. We are commanded to do so.
Please let me know what acts of love you express after reading this blog. I am certain each of us can make a difference in the life of someone else. Collectively, in numbers we can do so much more. See the invisible among us, start by taking the time this weekend.
Take Inventory and Take Action and have a Happy Memorial Day!
“Lighting the path to loving your neighbor as yourself.”