I started my day at Mass, asking that God bless America and especially all those who have given their life for our freedom. Truth be told, I usually start each day at Mass. But, there is something about Memorial Day and remembering our fallen troops at church that is always so profound for me.
But, Mass today, wow was that special. Let me explain. Every morning when I attend Mass, there is an older man, maybe 94 or so, who always attends. We call him Briggs. He still drives and brings with him everyday, a woman from their retirement community, who just turned 96 herself. Briggs is such a gentleman, always a kind word, opening doors for each of us. I don’t know him well, but I have heard a few stories. One story in particular is that he fought at the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. When I asked him about that a few months ago, he simply smiled and asked how I had heard that. I took that as confirmation that indeed he had fought for us there.
But, back to this morning. We are at Mass and there is Briggs, in his usual place, on Mary’s side of church. As Mass was drawing to a conclusion, our Pastor suggested that we sing, as a closing song, God Bless America. But, he offered, that he can not carry a tune and would someone be willing to lead us in song?
There are easily 50 – 75 people at Mass, but not a soul was willing to start, except for one strong voice. Yes, it was Briggs that immediately led us in song. The 94 year old man who fought for our freedom, ever so proudly led us in singing God Bless America this morning. There was a hush for a second as we all realized who had started the song, and then we all joined in. I don’t know if I ever heard a more beautiful rendition of that great song.
I think about the gifts that his man has provided us; from his days in battle, to his work in our community, to his gentleness with all he meets, to his beautiful humility. Perhaps his greatest gift is the example he sets for us each and everyday, an example of faith, honor, commitment and loyalty. That gift was so profoundly evident today, as the 94 year old veteran stood tall and sang out God Bless America for us and for all those who have served.
God Bless our troops and God Bless America…