Real Wealth Society

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I’ve been thinking about gratitude by Fred Cederholm

Column for on/after Nov. 19th, 2006

I’ve been thinking about gratitude. Actually I’ve been thinking about Thanksgiving, fellowship, our troops, Ward 57, deployments, spaces, and names. We should all be grateful for the many blessings bestowed upon us during this past year and give thanks for the individuals who love us, who help us, and who serve us. We should do this each and every day – unfortunately, that is probably not the case.

You see this year the Thanksgiving celebration began on Sunday evening when members of six local congregations (three Lutheran, two Methodist, and one Catholic) gathered together to give thanks in a special ecumenical service. It was a time of fellowship, of remembrance, and of gratitude. There was a lot to TH*NK about. The festivities culminate on Thursday as we gather together with families, friends, and neighbors for a bountiful meal, more fellowship, and yes, football.

Creston is a community of about 500 people and my home town congregation of St. Johns numbers about 100 souls. Every Sunday our prayer list in the service bulletin includes the names of those we know who are ill, who grieve, or who have special needs. Once a month, an insert includes the names of the service men and women who have ties to the members of little St. Johns Lutheran Church in Creston. The most recent edition of that list contains sixteen names of individuals in every branch of our military forces. Sixteen is a record number for us. I have no doubt that every congregation in this nation shares our links to (and concerns for) the young men and women who are part of their “families.”

Since the brouhaha of the media event on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003 when “Mission Accomplished” was the buzz byte of the day, the undeclared wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have dragged on longer than the entire Second World War! THAT threshold was crossed the first part of this November. Since May 1st, 2003, over 3,150 men and women in our armed forces have been killed (112 in October of 2006 and 48 more thus far in this November). Over 25,000 more have been seriously wounded in those conflicts. THOSE are at least the statistics which have been officially acknowledged.

Of the seriously injured, roughly 6% are amputees - or multiple amputees. Never before in any prior conflict(s) has this percentage been so high – such is the legacy of this “modern” war of terrorism. Ward 57 at the Walter Reed Military Hospital specializes in the treatment and rehabilitation of amputees. As of October 30th, they alone have treated over 725 service men and women who have lost limbs while serving in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. 17 to 20% of them will return to some form of active duty. More want to return, but they can’t. The spirits are willing, but the bodies just aren’t able.

It has only been in recent weeks that these statistics and stories of heroism have even surfaced in the Media. Those statistics and stories needed to be told and the American Public had the right to hear about them. Such revelations more than likely surfaced only because of the elections on November 7th - which clearly became a nationwide referendum on the so-called “wars” and the policies behind pursuing them. While we know the results of the elections, do we really know the direction that will be taken to change course and “fix” things? Or… even how long any of the “fixes” will take/cost?

Talk is cheap. It is the coming actions that will speak louder than the forthcoming words and rhetoric of both spin and sound bytes. We have basically three options open to US/us. We can either “Go On, Go Big, or Go Home.” I know what I want to occur, but I fear my wishes (and those of so many others) will continue to go unheeded. Regardless of the choices made by the powers that be, on this Thanksgiving there will be over 150,000 households with spaces vacant around the tables because their loved ones – their sons, their daughters, their siblings, their friends – are far away from home and hearth. Those are the realities of this Thanksgiving of 2006.

Please take a moment to reflect on and give thanks to our service men and women who will be spending this holiday away from their families/ their loved ones. I specifically ask that you remember Brandon, Kristen, Robert, Matt, Nate, Chris, Andy, Bernt, Eric, Mitchel, Dan, Jami, Lynn, Kevin, Jason, and Richard. To that list, I ask that you add the names of those from your families, congregations, and communities. Every name reflects a person with family and friends who miss them this Thanksgiving. We owe them so very much. I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.

Copyright Questions, Inc. 2006 all right reserved.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home