For many, this description leads us to think of many of the memorials that we see in our nation's capital, Washington D.C. Their solemn beauty stands to remind all of us of the men and women who gave their lives for our nation. What some don't consider is that something like this can reside in a small town.
Baxter Springs, Kansas, a town about ten minutes away from my home nestled in the southeast corner of the state, is home to a memorial dedicated to the veterans from all branches of the military. I attended the unveiling while I was home on Thanksgiving break, and was completely awe-stricken. Five stones stood in a semi circle around a larger one in the center. Each of the outer stones were engraved with images depicting a different branch of the military, while the center stone had an engraved dedication to America's veterans. What particularly stood out about this memorial was not the polished stones that my eyes saw, however, but the small paver bricks my feet stood upon.
Each brick was marked with a different name. Names that were family friends, and names that I had never seen before. Below each name was a description of what branch of the military they belonged to, if they had been apart of a war, and what years they had served. Each brick had a place on that path, locking between the others and serving as an entrance to the memorial.
|Courtesy of Michael Rodgers Photography|
The memorial project was undertaken by my grandmother several years back. With the help of friends, family, and the community she and the other members of her committee set out to build something that would stand as a reminder of those who served. The committee had gone through many years of phone calls, late nights, meetings, and construction, to honor others. Over these past years, my grandma had always had a full schedule, but between it all, she always found, and still finds, time for the ones she cares about.
I began to have some thoughts after the ceremony: service is a continuous cycle. We don't just do it once, and then we're done. Those we serve have or have had the opportunity to serve another, and the chain continues. My grandma and her colleagues worked to serve the men and women of the armed forces, as they have served our country for countless years. How can you be caught up in the act of service? How are you able to serve those in your home and community? Is there a way that you can be a part of this continuous cycle of service?
Through this memorial, we offer thanks, in the hopes that one day future generations can look upon it, and be thankful for the service that was given to ensure our safety, our ideals, and our country. To all of the men and women, past, present, and future, who live an act of service: Thank you.