During the Vietnam War, a young Marine helicopter gunner was scheduled to go on a routine "milk run"; at the last minute, he was pulled from the mission, and a Marine named Jim Childers took his place.
Jim Childers was killed on that mission.
I never met Jim Childers - he lived and died long before I was born. But the man whose place he took survived his time in the war. He went on to become a tea...cher and a writer, and used both skills to deeply and irrevocably touch my life. Because of knowing him, I will never be the same.
It's easy, sometimes, to reduce Memorial Day to a sentiment, a picnic, or a footnote on a calendar page. Harder, sometimes, to truly grasp the breathtaking sacrifice that has been given to make us who we are today, both as a nation and as individuals. A nineteen year old Marine gave his life in war, and forty years later, my life was given new dimensions because of his sacrifice.
I thank God for the many veterans who have impacted my life, both directly and indirectly.
But most of all, I thank God for Jim Childers.