Memorial Day in the United States is a time when we honor those who have died in our nation’s wars. According to Brittanica.com:
Memorial Day originated in 1864 during the American Civil War when citizens placed flowers on the graves of those who had been killed in battle. Although the official date and location are disputed, in 1868 John A. Logan, the commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans, promoted a national holiday on May 30 “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country.” Post-World War I, the day came to be observed in honor of those who had died in all U.S. wars. The name of the day was changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day.
For those of us who are military families, the day is very personal. Most of us have family or friends who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country. Their memory is etched in our soul. Memorial Day is to remember them to the rest of the world.
Today, we remember Army Major Christopher Splinter.
On Christmas Eve 2003, MAJ Splinter, while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 5th Engineer Battalion, died near Smarra, Iraq, when his vehicle hit a homemade bomb. He was only 43. He was survived by his wife, and high school sweetheart, Penny, and their two children, 13-year-old Mitchell “Mitch” and 10-year-old Rachel. MAJ Splinter and his family were stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
About two month before MAJ Splinter died, COL Paul Kelly visited his 5th Engineer Battalion in Iraq, and the men talked with pride about rebuilding six schools and repairing other infrastructure ripped apart by the war. “I remember sitting down with MAJ Splinter and discussing the operation,” Kelly said. “We talked about his family. He also expressed pride in being able to serve his country.” (Associated Press)
Chris loved his family and his country.
Shortly after Chris’s death, Penny and I (we played volleyball together at Ft. Leonard Wood) took Rachel and Mitch hiking with my kiddos out near our farm. It was good soul-medicine to hear the laughter of the children. Community is such a healing tonic for the soul. It was a blessing to be a small part of lessening their pain. It is so important that we honor the fallen by—loving their families and including them in our life. I was so proud of Penny, the ultimate warrior-mamma, protecting and nurturing her children as they all worked through their grief. I was very humbled to be a very small part of her story. Even though the family has relocated to a different state…I still feel very connected to them.
One of the best ways we honor our fallen heroes…is to love their loved ones. We can be that extra parent to children who do not have their father or mother to celebrate graduations, birthdays, Christmases, weddings and the birth of their children. We can be the friend to spouses who suffered unimaginable grief and loneliness. And we can shower affection on the grand-children like—two-year-old Lucy, and one year-old Dean—who will never have the joy of being spoiled by Grandpa Chris.
Those of us who know them have the privilege to step up and be the family and community for the families of all our fallen heroes.
Thank-you Chris, Penny, Mitch, and Rachel, and all the other Gold Star Families https://www.americasgoldstarfamilies.org for your ultimate sacrifice. The memory of your beloved lives through you. WE are your family. WE stand by you…
and…WE will never forget.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.“John 15:13
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