Late on Friday (actually early Saturday morning), my husband and I met with his coworkers on Bourbon Street at “the oldest bar in America.” We were a small group of four: My husband and I, a young (25) army veteran, and a New Yorker. We sat around an old piano, cheered to the day, and discussed work and politics. There was nothing remarkable about our conversations. We were just enjoying each other’s company.
We closed down the bar in the early A.M. after only just a couple of drinks. Standing outside saying our farewells to the night we had a stranger join us, a homeless man. He was wearing a clean army green t-shirt and a ball cap. In both hands he held very large full pink alcoholic beverages. There was a magnetic pull between this homeless man to our veteran friend. Instantly they began trading their military backgrounds. This homeless man was a Native American Vietnam Veteran.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
The two carried on. They laughed. They agreed. They pointed to scars. They cheered. My heart broke. I leaned into my husband and whispered “Memorial Day can be very hard for veterans.” The reasons I know this first hand aren’t my stories to tell. Why, in America, is there a homeless war veteran? There are so many reasons and the answers can be quiet complicated. PTSD? Alcoholism? Mental Health? Disabilities?
Memorial Day is a time to remember fallen soldiers. We quickly forget that or confuse it with Veteran’s Day set aside to celebrate and thank our service men. Truthfully, Memorial Day is a time of significant mourning to those families who have lost their loved ones to war. It’s also time of mourning for veterans who survived the loss of their brothers and sisters in arms. Their PTSD scabs are picked off, their scars poked, and we go to BBQ’s and beaches.
A Time for Everything, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.