I see her as I walk my dog. A mere five houses down.
Day after day, alone outside.
An American Flag waves overhead, perched proudly from the side of their home. She is kicking a soccer ball against her garage door. The ball slams in to the door with a loud thump, echoing throughout the neighborhood. She has a sadness about her that is palpable and I wonder what kind of weight a twelve year old girl could possibly carry upon her shoulders?
Then one day, in the shade of that Magnolia, I notice the gold star*** hanging in that front window. It steals my breath away, because how many times have I walked past that house and never noticed the star? And I wonder when that Blue Star turned to Gold? Had I missed it completely, or was this wound deep and long and scarred over?
The reality of that girl’s childhood hits me. I imagine that final day when she clung to her daddy’s leg, begging him not to go. But he did. And they counted and waited, as we all do through drawn out deployments. And I imagine paper chains and jars of Hershey kisses, counting down to a day that would never come.
And after the Chaplain and men in their crispest uniforms leave her mom’s side, and they are left to pick up the pieces of a life shattered wide open, they hang that gold star. A reminder for us. To never forget the sacrifice made by that girl’s father. To remember all of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and the families that still feel the void every day!
The American Flag that waves from the side of their home is much more than decoration, or a patriotic gesture. That flag holds more meaning and sacrifice than a piece of cloth could possibly hold.
Because she gave her father for that flag. And for that, no words can capture the deep gratitude of a Nation bowed in remembrance.
Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”