Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Ritual

This weeks obits were full of some interesting lives.  What struck me this week was the number of WWII vets in the obits.  Today out of 43 obits 7 of them were of WWII vets.  I realize that it has been 60+ years since the end of that war and that the number of WWII vets in the obits will dwindle until there are none left.  That saddens me, once they are gone who will be their witness?

The witness word comes from a movie we watched last night called "Taking Chance".  It is the true story of a Marine Corps Lt. Colonel, who is at the end of his career and knows it.  He reads the rolls of the dead in the current war every night, thinking that maybe if he was there this Marine may still be alive.  One night he reads the name of a young Marine from his home town and volunteers to be his escort home.  He "meets" his Marine at the morgue in Virginia and takes him home.  He makes sure he is treated with respect at each juncture of the final trip home for this young Marine.  He double checks each time he is moved from a plane, into a hanger, sleeping next to him in the cargo hold rather than leave him alone.  He arrives at the final stop and that evening at the local VFW hall there is a gathering honoring Chance Phelps, PFC USMC.  His escort is left at the end of the night standing in the parking lot with a Korean war vet watching all Chance's friends drive away.  The Lt. Colonel voices his own demons choosing his cubical job over going to Iraq, he questions his decision to spend more time with his family, what kind of Marine is that, he is a warrior, his whole life has been worthless.  The Korean vet turns to him and lashes out, what do you mean that the choices you made were wrong?  You brought this young man home, you are his witness.  He will truely never be gone until you are gone, that is not worthless.

I guess that I hope we are all witnesses for someone, just sit a moment and remember someone, be their witness.  Hmm.. maybe this is why I read the obits to be a witness to a life?

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