(Wait .. the last memorial I was at was Rosa Park's. Not even kidding. But I dont think that counts).
I was expecting it to be emotional. I was expecting it to be hard. I expected to cry.
It pretty much lived up to all my expectations, so there's that.
So, since you're wondering, here's how it went:
We all sat down. They played music for awhile. The rear chaplain prayed. The rear-d read statements about the two guys the service was for. Two enlisted guys made separate statements about the guys. ...
And then the rear-d read a statement spoken by the Col. at the guy's memorial service Over There, including about how the guys spent hours "finding" the people who died (... they died via IED so you and I can both guess what this "finding" and "searching" involved). He reminded us why we are fighting and how not everyone is going to come home [this is when the crying started].
Next, the chaplain prayed again. And they did "last roll call" where a Sgt. took roll call, including the names of the guys who died, and of course they didn't answer so there was an obvious gap. [more crying here]. Next the bagpipers played Amazing Grace [LOTS of crying here all around], followed by the gun salute [crying crying crying] and taps [still, more crying].
And then -- and this was the part I didn't expect -- people went two by two (or so) up to the front where photos of the guys were placed in front of two pairs of boots, two guns and two helmets and stood for a few seconds. Starting with family and command and then all the way throughout the chapel row by row.
I didn't know either of these guys. But that was hard.
I determined today that, while I am in D.C., I will visit our boys at Walter Reed. We have three of them there right now, including the best friend of one of my friend's husbands. I am actually excited to be able to do this, even though I know it will be hard. I know that Luke would want me to (even though I came up with the idea on my own). I'm going to make them cookies or something and then head over there. Obviously they are pretty beat up or they wouldn't be there. But ... this will be good.
I am a do-er. I have to DO something or I feel vulnerable and helpless. If I can do something, no matter what it is, it's almost a little bit like I can control some of the situation (even though I can't).
It occurred to me today that, when I pray for Luke, I am almost approaching the situation as if all God can do is protect Luke from some big, evil out of control enemy. "God, PLEASE protect my husband from the danger." ... and in doing so I forget (through lack of acknowledgement if nothing else) that, in reality, God IS the danger, in some way. Not only does He control whether or not my husband and others get hurt, he controls the hurting. ... Does that distinction make sense?
By not actively acknowledging that God is not only in control of who gets hurt, but is control of the whole big thing I let fear in. ... fear that something, completely out of all control, will hurt me and those that I love.
The reality is that God is completely and totally in control of this whole thing. Yes, I should pray that He will put a hedge of protection around my husband and all of those involved -- but I also must remember that God is doing all of this for a reason, even though I don't have any idea what that reason is.
I just think that's a really important thing to remember. God is in control of this war. Nothing happens that He does not allow. And He will hear my prayers to save my husband from all of this.