Flags in memory of and in honor of veterans wave in a grassy field outside of Punxsutawney , thanks to Dick and Ava Bishop of Punxsutawney, who set up the display and provide the flags and cards to anyone who wants to place a flag.
“In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones, mean?’ tell them . . .” – Joshua 4:21–22 (NIV)
With three grandchildren on different ball teams (plus one of them umpires), hubby and I are at the Punxsutawney Little League Fields just about every evening. After the sixth game in four days, I told Dean we should park our camper at the ball field.
The Punxsutawney Little League complex is almost a second home to us, as we spent many a summer afternoon and evening there when our youngest played baseball. Five well-maintained and lighted ball fields for Minor League, Little League, Senior Little League, what we call the “Teener League” (VFW), and girls’ softball, are located beside Mahoning Creek.
Each ball field is named for someone local. Some honor those who have devoted much of their time to maintain and improve the fields and the league. Two fields are named as memorials.
The Little League field is called the “Billy Titus Memorial Field,” named after a Punxsutawney Little Leaguer who was killed in a farming accident.
The VFW League field, the Rich Kuntz Memorial Field, is named for SP4 Richard Lorraine Kuntz, who was killed in action in Vietnam on February 5, 1968, six weeks before his twenty-first birthday.
My grandson once asked me, “Who was Rich Kuntz? Why is the field named after him?” Since I’ve spent half a lifetime at the fields and know the stories behind the names, I was able to tell him. But it got me wondering: How many people drive right by those signs or even say the name of the ball field and don’t realize the significance?
Memorials are built and named so we won’t forget, so those who come after will learn of the sacrifice of the Vietnam soldier, the love a little leaguer who never got to play Senior League had for the game.
This weekend we observe Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor and remember our military men and women who gave their lives in service to our country.
Some died in action, some went missing in action and never were found, some died a slow death after they came home and tried to resume a normal life. Some are still alive, but they will never be the same.
Sadly, these holidays that are set aside to remember and honor those who have stepped to the plate for our country are too often perceived as simply a day off work, to relax, catch up on things, feast and frolic.
While there’s nothing wrong with any of those activities, let us not forget to remember why we observe Memorial Day.
On the way to the baseball complex, there’s a grassy field beside the road that’s covered with U.S. flags. Each time I passed it last week, more flags waved in the breeze. Thursday, I slowed down to read the sign. Passersby are invited to place a free flag there in honor of a veteran.
I didn’t have time to stop. But you know what? As soon as I finished writing my column on Friday, I drove to that field and placed three flags: in honor of my husband (U.S. Marine Corps, 1968–1972), my father (U.S. Army, World War II), and my father-in-law (U.S. Navy, World War II). It was the least I could do.
What about you? What are you doing to remember this Memorial Day?
Thank you, Lord, for those who gave themselves to serve, protect, and defend our country. Let us never forget the sacrifices they made. Amen.
Extra tea: Read and meditate on Joshua 4