Text: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
I delivered this reflection at my Naval Academy 15-year class reunion. We held a memorial service in the USNA Chapel for our classmates who have died over the years. Their names:
Rest eternal, Shipmates, and may perpetual light continue to shine on you.
15 years….15 years ago we graduated from this place, heading out to “forge a new millennium;” our class motto. Then about three months later, fateful events happened on September 11th, and everything changed. As I thought about what I’d say here today, I realize that we celebrated the 15th Anniversary of 9/11 last month. As a nation we have been at war, conflict, or whatever you want to call it, essentially the entire time after we graduated from the Naval Academy. Who knew 15 years ago this would be the new millennium we’d be forging.
And here we are today, to celebrate reunited, to laugh, catch up on where we’ve been, where we’re going, who has kids, who’s a little grayer, a little thicker around the middle, and who still looks like they did 15 years ago. I think Tim Stabbing’s still running a sub 8 1.5 mile these days! So we remember…..I remember.
I remember standing Company Mate of the Deck Plebe year, explaining chemistry to Jason McCray, and Jason explaining his defensive line assignments for the upcoming game that week. To this day, I’ll never understand how Jason could master all those complex defensive calls, but couldn’t figure out chemistry! I remember Youngster year walking around with Bret Miller in New York City, both of us completely lost because we grew up in small towns, totally drenched in our own sweat because that’s what wearing cotton summer whites in the middle of summer will do for ya. I remember spring Firstie year, Hoot Stahl coming up to me and saying, “Fuller, you’re a wrestler…we gotta cut weight to get within standards, and so we figured you could give us some tips.” And later, there was pretty much all the Firstie lineman, in my room, taking tips on how to lose 50 pounds in three weeks. While my memory isn’t that great, I’m pretty sure Ron Winchester was there.
We remember, and it’s important to remember. It’s important to remember because the truth is, there is still a piece of me that looks at our world and nation and the last 15 years and when I think of our classmates who have died darkness creeps in and erodes away at any sense of joy in this life. Remembering is important because when we take the time to do so, God does renews us from within, taking the sadness and pain and cynicism and replacing it with a sense of thanksgiving, gratitude, strength, and hope. Our souls are renewed, bringing a peace that only God can give.
And so this weekend, as we celebrate reunions, let us take time to remember, and in a bit remember our classmates who will never be with us again in this life by reading their names and sounding a chime. We remember, we are healed…and for the gift of remembering, let us say thanks be to God. Amen.