“Happy Three Day Weekend!”
Have you seen or heard this phrase over the past couple of days? I’m certainly guilty of hearing it (and saying it!). I mean, it’s human nature to be egocentric. We as humans are programmed to think about ourselves first, and the others around us second. Survival of the fittest at its best, right?! But just like we teach in my three-year-old classroom, its important to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. I can’t tell you how many times per week I say, “Look at his face. He is crying! How did it make him feel when you knocked down his tower?” (It’s ALWAYS a broken tower…ALWAYS!)
Now, this isn’t a blog to make everyone who said, “Happy Three Day Weekend!” or anyone who is excited about having a cookout in this fabulous weather feel guilty. Like I just mentioned above, I said it multiple times, and I too am looking forward to several warm days of grilling with family and friends. But I saw this post yesterday and it hit me in all the right ways.
Having married into the family with such a significant military loss, this holiday especially should mean something more than “cookouts” and “an extra day off of work” for me. But it’s interesting. Sometimes remembering is equally as difficult as the guilt associated with forgetting to remember. Remembering involves bringing up all those feelings once again. Feelings of sadness from the day everything happened, feelings of anger, and (perhaps more significantly for me) wondering what life would be like if his life had not been cut short, as a soon-to-be-Grandpa to our little guy.
For those that don’t know, Joe’s father, Capt. Russell Seager, enlisted in the Army Reserves after 9/11. He was motivated to serve his country and after four years of “Reserves,” he decided to actively enlist for deployment in Afghanistan. As a Nurse Practitioner who served those in the VA system for years, (and as a professor teaching nursing students in the greater Milwaukee area) he was already a “servant.” So it came as no surprise that this was the next step in his journey as one of God’s servants, even given his “older-than-the-norm” age during his initial enlisting. Although “Grandpa Seager” (which I type with tears in my eyes… but will forever be how I refer to him in my mind from this day on) was never able to serve in a deployment to Afghanistan, he did quite literally lay down his life over another, saving her, during the 2009 Fort Hood Terrorist Attack when an Islamic extremist (who shall not be named in this blog) opened fire on the unarmed soldiers and personnel killing a total of 14, and injuring countless more.
It’s hard to think about and remember the sadness that this incident caused my family. But it’s also important. Like any situation in life there are two points of view that can be held; a positive or a negative (think, “Laurel/Yanny” – everyone is hearing the same sound clip, yet one person may get “Laurel” while the other so clearly hears “Yanny”). I could choose to be sad and angry. Be upset that our future little guy will not have “Grandpa Seager” around as an example of hard work, Christian servanthood, and in general to just make memories with. However, I’m choosing on this day to share the story of his brave sacrifice; a sacrifice that models so clearly the sacrifice that Christ made for all of his children on the cross. Of course we would rather Grandpa Seager be around for all of Baby Seager’s big moments (birth, baptism, first steps, kindergarten graduation, real graduation… oh gosh… too soon!), but that is not God’s plan. We can, however, share stories of the Crayola-loving, guy who loved education so much that he had a black board (complete with chalk – no white boards allowed!) installed in his basement. The guy who would take his wife, Joe, and one of Joe’s friend on educational/historical summer vacations each year, laughing to the point of tears when the boys would “break wind” in the back of the car every 15 minutes. And most importantly, as Grandpa Seager “the servant.”
This weekend is going to be beautiful in so many ways. The weather we have been waiting for is finally here. Some much needed time off of work on Monday will refresh both Joe and me in ways I’m sure I don’t need to describe to anyone reading this blog (you all need it too!). If I’m lucky, I will even convince Joe to go with me to pick up the baby furniture which arrived in completion yesterday at Buy Buy Baby (Joe if you are reading this… PLEASE take me to go get it today!! I want that nursery DONE!).
However, the greatest beauty to behold is the beauty of servanthood. The beauty of those who have sacrificed (whether by giving of their time, talents, or in the ultimate manner with their lives) for our freedom in this beautiful country of promise and opportunity.
I challenge all those reading this blog today to “remember” in some manner this weekend, whether it be by reaching out to a family member who has served our country with a simple, “Thank-you,” standing in honor at a Memorial Day Parade, teaching your children about the true meaning of this holiday weekend, or donating to a non-profit organization such as Wounded Warriors. Today I remember by sharing Grandpa Seager’s story. We miss you in this world, but know we will see you one day soon in the next.