When I finish a book, and especially a series, I am always a little bit sad that it is over. I hate both saying goodbye to characters that, although fictional, have become my friends for several hours and leaving the world in which they live. I find myself wanting to know what happens after the last period and how the story continues for these people. After finishing the Hunger Games trilogy, I felt an array of emotions. Swirling together with the sadness over finishing and a slight disappointment over the ending were the memories of my time in my beloved Russia. Again I am forced to realize that I left a part of my heart in Russia and it will never return to me. I cannot tell you why Russia, why I love it so. I can only tell you that it is there and it will never stop. The people, so long downtrodden and denied hope, both stoic and loving, proud and generous, such a unique mixture of what should be opposites, are forever in my heart.
Barely had I time to reflect on all of this before it was time to get ready. I managed to corral my boys through the bath and into dress clothes to head to the promotion ceremony of a friend in the army. As always, I feel gratefulness and pride during the playing of the national anthem. Ever since my time in Russia, I have become misty-eyed when I see our beautiful flag and hear the song reminding us about the hard-earned fight to become "the land of the free." Today, emotionally a little raw over Mockingjay, in an aircraft hanger celebrating the promotion of one of those brave who help preserve our freedom, tears fell as I leaned over and switched my youngest son's left hand to right and showed him where his heart is.
He made one star general. I love the ceremony and tradition of the military. Not just because I love flags flying, sharp dress uniforms, and highly polished shoes. Not that I don't enjoy the parades... I love the patriotism, commitment, and the personal sacrifice that our men and women in uniform display. To me, they are heroes. Christ stated, "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends." Jn. 15:13 (NLT) Our military is an unbroken line over 200 years old who have been willing to give their lives to defend the freedoms we often take for granted. My friend is a strong Christian and was able I give his testimony. He is one who stands with all the pomp and circumstance of an elite promotion and not only quotes, but lives "with great privilege comes great responsibility." He truly understands the obligations required of his new post. It was an honor to be there and celebrate this day with him, his supportive wife, and his family who have all had to make sacrifices.
As I watched his wife and grown children fasten his general stars on, I remember my own brother's swearing in ceremony. It started at midnight eleven years ago, but many details are permanently fixed in my brain, colorful as the pictures that I frantically took. The pride in seeing take his oath of office and mom and dad pin his butter bars on. Of realizing that he went through four years of intense and often torturous training for the honor of standing on that stage and promising to make further sacrifices to defend this great country. Of realizing that years of prayers had just been answered. The ear-to-ear grin on the face of my normally quiet and reserved brother, a smile not often seen the last few years. Of being the crazy sister who was so determined to record everything on film for posterity that she stood in three-inch heels on a metal folding chair in order to get the best shot. The faces on the people in the chairs around me, ladies in sequined dresses and officers with shiny metal and ribbons on their chest and shoulders, not one looked truly askance at my actions because they understood the pride.
|The boys are tiny compared to the Blackhawk.|
|It wasn't hard to get them to smile for the camera. :)|