Next Monday is Memorial Day. While he did not die in battle, my wife Pam's father, Buck Mason, was a pilot who served our nation in two wars and was a POW. He was awarded the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Bronze Star. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Buck knew what it was to fly through God's heavens. The poem "High Flight" has been read at some significant events in the life of this nation. It captures this feeling of what it means to fly:
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling
mirth of sun-split clouds, - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air...
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor even eagle flew-
And while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
-John Gillespie Magee
I don't know if Buck actually "touched the face of God," but I believe that God certainly loved the face of Buck - who was a child of God.
In one of Paul's letters to Timothy, Paul says, " . . . the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." Being an athlete in college and a soldier in wartime, Buck knew about "running the good race," and about "fighting the good fight" for what he believed to be right -- particularly in serving his country. His life was guided by service and duty, which made him a genuine hero. Buck embodied all that was noble in what has been called "The Greatest Generation." May we give thanks for those men and women who gave or risked their lives for others.