I will never forget the first time I attended the somber, elegant, and sobering ceremony that has become the mainstay of honoring POW/MIA veterans when we are not having to deal with a manufactured disease that has at times forced us to be sequestered, kept us from worshipping together, and crippled our economy. The ceremony was held at the Alabama Veterans Museum, and I expected to feel great respect for those I had once disrespected. I was sitting next to my “adopted dad,” MSG (Ret) Bill Schueler, USAF, who is a Vietnam vet; the kind of man that back in my days of B.C. Marxist insanity I would have referred to as a “baby killer.”
What I did not expect was to feel both waves of grief over whom I had once been, along with waves of relief knowing that I had been fully forgiven for whom I had been and what I had done. As I silently sobbed, my “dad” just put his arm around me, and waited while I cried it out. No words needed to be said, as we had visited this topic many times before, and I was grateful beyond words for his strong and comforting support in the midst of my meltdown. It is said that there are only two who have been willing to give their lives for the freedom of those who are undeserving; Yeshua ha Mashiach (Jesus the Christ) and the American soldier. When it comes to undeserving, I fall solidly into both categories, and I am one about whom it can be said that because I have been forgiven much, I have been given the freedom to love much.
This year we are not able to gather together in order to remember, but Vietnam vet Ron Webster requested that Mayor Ronnie Marks, who also served in Vietnam, designate today, September 18, as the day that we as grateful Athenians honor those who never came home and paid with their blood so we didn’t have to.
As you read this declaration, take the time to reflect on what we have been given as well as how easily we could let it slip away if we are not careful.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner