Friday, August 20, 2010

Fallen, but not forever

I was working the afternoon watch on a beautiful Memorial Day.  I drove down a busy avenue to my district and this avenue hosts all the vices known to mankind.   I saw the usual assortment of thieves, prostitutes, and drug dealers lurking in their haunts.  I saw two hookers about to pick up a john (a person who solicits a prostitute) so I got on the tail of the john and he suddenly wasn’t so interested.  Dope dealers moved into the shadows and car thieves that were hanging around a 7-11 convenience store (waiting for someone to go inside without shutting off their car) went indoors themselves.  Many of these miscreants would be rousted before the night was over. 

As I was focusing my attention on a known burglar with a large TV in the back seat of his car, 911 dispatched me to check on the welfare of a man acting strangely in a nearby National Military Memorial Cemetery.  When I arrived thousands of miniature American flags waved in the wind covering the hillsides of the cemetery.  Memorial Day visitors were paying tribute to fallen soldiers and loved ones. 

A grounds keeper contacted me at the main office and gave me a map to an area near the top of the cemetery where he had observed a grieving young man, in his early 20’s, behaving  strangely by one of the graves.  The ground keeper told me this man had been in the cemetery for several hours drinking beer, crying and ranting near a headstone. 

Mess Kit
He also reported that he brought shoe polish and was spit polishing a pair of military boots that he placed uniformly beside the grave marker.  He was arranging a mess kit with the knife, fork and spoon at strict right angles to the pan and he had several T-shirts rolled up over beer cans that were placed symmetrically side by side.  He had taken off a military shirt that he had worn and had shredded it into one inch strips with a Ka-bar knife.  The grounds keeper also told me he last saw the young man walking into a wooded tree area on the edge of the cemetery carrying a cotton rope, but when he didn’t come out when he thought he should, the grounds keeper called the police.  

Ka-bar knife
I located the grave and read the headstone noting the deceased was a decorated military veteran of WWII and Korea and that he had recently died.  The items described by the ground keeper were as he reported and the Ka-bar knife was stabbed through the shredded military shirt sticking it to the ground. 

There were several empty beer cans strewn around on the road near the grave.  Alcohol seems to be associated with numbed senses and bad judgment, so I knew I would have to go into the woods to find this young man, whom I’ll call Jerry. 

When I found Jerry he had taken his own life.  As I lowered Jerry’s muscular body to the ground, that was now lifeless, I thought: “what a waste of a life.”  I later learned that Jerry admired his grandfather as a decorated military hero, that he wanted to be like him, and had spent a lot of time with him.   Jerry also could not come to grips with the thought of not being with his grandpa anymore.

 If Jerry had understood better that Christ died on the cross and was resurrected so that we all will be resurrected, he possibly could have endured missing his grandfather for the season of his mortal life.  Jesus Christ has told us in John 11: 25I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

 Amulek teaches us in the Book of Alma chapter 11:
 42 Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death.
  43 The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time …  44 Now, this restoration shall come to all ...

Let’s all have greater faith and hope in Jesus Christ.  Then we can share our faith to help comfort those who have lost a loved one.  To learn more about the resurrection and God’s plan of happiness click on