This is the speech I wrote for the services held at Beaver Crossing and Goehner cemeteries this morning. It was a great day.
MEMORIAL DAY 5/30/16 SPEECH
Good morning and thank you for the great honor of inviting me to be a part of this special day. PeeWee Schultz asked me to speak at this event on a day when I was getting ready to perform at a spring luncheon held at the United Church of Christ in Goehner. I was in a particularly good mood and PeeWee had a particularly kind smile and gleam in his eye that made it impossible for me to say NO. I had to accept especially when I learned that PeeWee was going to be recognized for his 70 years of membership with the Beaver Crossing American Legion Post 178. On a side note I will also say that I suspect that the Schultz brothers were working together because not one week later did I get roped into the doing the melodrama by one Lloyd Schultz. And please contact Lloyd if you’re still in need of tickets.
I am a pastor’s wife, a mother of three sons, a part time waitress, a volunteer and a performing singer/songwriter. In all these roles I get to meet lots of different people and hear their stories. It’s the songwriting that I want to focus on for today.
A songwriter is a storyteller. I love hearing stories and telling stories and I consider it my calling to try and tell the stories of the people who populate my life. I joke on stage that there are simply not enough small town pastor’s wife mothers out there writing songs these days and it’s true! Being a member of a church opens the door to hearing lots of stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Waiting tables at a restaurant gives me the chance to meet people passing through from all over the U.S And get a glimpse into their adventures. I love it. It is proof over and again that the most amazing stories aren’t in movie theaters or in best-selling books. The best stories are right here where we live and they should be told.
A story starts with a main character setting out on a path that is peopled with supporting characters along the way. There is self-discovery, there is love, children, work and the building of a life. There are stories of men going off to war, stories of sons quitting school in order to go work the family farm, there are stories of women keeping their families together after losing their husbands at a time when losing your husband meant losing your livelihood. In any story there are challenges and the overcoming of obstacles. There is heartbreak and set back and then there is courage and trying again. Each one of us can tell the story of how our family made it to Nebraska and all the twists and turns that happened to lead us up to this very day. In any of those stories the truth of our humanity, of our brokenness and of our redemption are the things that intrigue me the most. The story is always unfolding and we find ourselves perpetually sandwiched between what has been and what is to come. A day like today is no different. The observance of Memorial Day was created to remember those men and women who gave their lives in service to their country, in defending the constitution of the United States of America and defending those who could not defend themselves. We remember them as part of our own stories. They were our friends, our neighbors, our colleagues and our countrymen and our lives have been shaped by them in big and small ways.
Today’s story, on this 30th day of May, 2016 finds us living in a country that enjoys freedoms that other countries do not possess and that is, in part, thanks to men and women who bravely sacrificed their lives in order to protect our nation’s integrity. We gather today in this cemetery to remind ourselves that we are not men and women living disconnected from our past, but rather, we are men and women who have been shaped by our past and we are actively shaping our present. Service men and women who gave their lives for their country and upheld their duty remind us that we are not our own, but that we live our lives in duty to our families, to our neighbors, to our country and to our God. We do not live independentLy, nor selfishly, for we are called to live for one another in the vocation to which God has called us.
PeeWee Schultz is an example of living for those around him and being a blessing to his community. He is being honored today for 70 years of membership in the American Legion Post of Beaver Crossing. He served in the Coast Guard and then later served his family and community as a farmer alongside his brothers. His story has been shaped by the people he met and their stories have been shaped by him. The same can be said for all of us.
On this Memorial Day we remember how fallen soldiers and servicemen and women have shaped our own stories and in doing so continue to be a part of our nation’s ever-changing legacy that will be passed on to the next generation. We give thanks to God for sons and daughters who died too soon because they understood that their lives were never their own, but were meant to be used in service to others. Our stories have been changed by their sacrifice. We also remember in our prayers those families whose loved ones have never come home from battle and who are still classified as Missing in Action. There are families who have never been able to leave flowers upon any gravestone simply because their sons and daughters have yet to return home.
As we go out this day, I would encourage you to tell your story. Remember and honor those memories by sharing them with others. Consider who you’ve become because of the people you have met along the way- the ones you knew for only a season and those with whom you’ve walked mile after mile. The best stories don’t come from Hollywood, they come from us and it’s important for us to share them. We have been called by our Lord to serve one another in love and that calling doesn’t end until we take our final breath. We continue to shape our communities, our nation and our world by seeking out our neighbor and living in connection with them. We continue to write our stories and help to write those of our friends and neighbors and each of those stories weaves into a rich pattern that is this great country of our’s. We are forever looking back from whence we came and taking steps further down the road toward where we are going. Let us be diligent in our desire to take with us those friends we have lost by telling their stories to the friends we have yet to meet.