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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

One Last Reflection for Veteran's Day

The author Kris Coppinger and her husband Tim were seminary students at Trinity School for Ministry (class of 94) during my time there.  This article was posted on St Michael's Church Charleston SC website.  Kris served as a curate there shortly after ordination and before her current service as an Air Force Chaplain.

[Name deleted] Air Field, Afghanistan

I just attended my second fallen comrade ceremony. This time only one casket – one too many. I got to go inside the aircraft as part of a group and render final respects. Salute the casket, kneel to pray, salute the casket, and then march out the aircraft. The young man’s middle name was Miguel. I didn’t know him like most of the people present at the ceremony, yet we went. It was the least we could do. As I write this I feel tears welling up. He was part of the team. A week ago he was probably laughing with his friends at some forward operating base. And now this. On my way off the airfield, as I was going out through the American hospital gate, I spoke with one of the security force troops manning the post. He is leaving our [name deleted] Air Field, Afghanistan in a couple of weeks. However, since his arrival 6 months ago, he has seen about 60 of these solemn ceremonies. When I heard that, I was angry and sad and proud all at the same time. Angry at this war and man’s inhumanity to man, sad at the loss of life and the loss of innocence for way too many young people, and proud of Miguel and others like him who gave their lives and proud of those who continue to stand guard.

I also know that this is only one step of the long journey home. He will be met by another chaplain at Dover AFB, Delaware. Then by another minister or chaplain who will preside over his funeral. Lives will change forever. I want to scream, “WHY?!,” but my faith is not weakened. Yet I do not have to like what I do not claim to understand. Thanks be to God for those who still care about the ideals of equality, democracy, and a safe world who are willing to put themselves in the harm’s way so that those ideals might ultimately triumph.

“Almighty God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead: We give you thanks for all your servants who have laid down their lives in the service of their country. Grant to them your mercy and the light of your presence; and give us such a lively sense of your righteous will, that the work which you have begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.” (A Prayer Book for The Armed Services, 2008, p. 58)


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