Summary: Military Memorial Ceremony Message
This is a seven to ten minute military memorial message. Apart from changing the name of the soldier and personal stories about the soldier, this message is appropriate for all types of audiences.
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We are gathered here today to remember Private Jimmy Ray Byrd. To remember how he has touched and impacted out lives. We are gathered here today to consider our own mortality, and what life means, for us the living.
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I have observed that all too often when someone we know dies, we tend to focus on death itself. Perhaps we focus on death because we are curious about what will happen after we die. Or, perhaps we focus on death because it makes us aware of our own limited time on earth, our own humanness. Regardless of why we as human beings reflect upon death on occasions such as this, I believe that we tend over look the importance of life and its value. We tend to focus on negative things, on our regrets (I should have done such and such, I could have, or I wish I would have…). And the list could go on and on about negative things and regrets that we cannot change. So instead of focusing on the negative, let us consider three positive things today.
1. Family and friends are a gift from God. While not everyone here today knew Private Byrd well, for all of us he was a co-worker and a member of our battalion. For some he was a good friend. For a few, he was like a brother. Whatever type of relationship you may have had with Private Byrd it is important to remember that all relationships are a gift from God and should be treasured. Although Private Bird is no longer with us we the living still have each other. So let us treasure and cherish one another. Let us see our friends and families as special gifts from God.
2. We need to be thankful to God for the memories our friends give us. I had the privilege of speaking with many of Private Byrd’s friends and co-workers. I heard many stories, each one of them a favorite of the person telling it. Perhaps the story I hear most often was how Private Bird use to slip candy to the laundry workers at Camp McGovern in Bosnia. His closest friends told me that he was a man with a generous heart. He was willing to help is friends out however or whenever he could. We need to be thankful for memories such as these as they enrich our lives and can make us better people.
3. With the tragic death of Private Byrd many of us are left asking the question why did this happen? This is a reasonable question for any of us to ask, but unfortunately it is a question that none of us will ever be able to completely answer. So rather dwell on the question of why this death happened, let us draw our attention to another question. Let us consider the question of where do we go from here? That is to ask how do we live our lives now?
Well, first in considering the question, we need to have faith that in the midst of this tragedy and in all tragedies, God is in control and that he will somehow, bring good from the situation. Now, how God will bring good we may never know as God’s ways are a mystery and beyond our understanding, but I have faith, that is I am confident that God’s plan is perfect.
Next as we consider the question, we need to live life one day at a time. Many here are going through a time of grieving and this is good and proper. But as we grieve, we must remember that life does goes on and we the living, have a responsibility to the here and now, a responsibility to live in the present and not the past. A responsibility that is fulfilled by living our lives one day at a time and letting those we care for, know how we feel.
Finally as we consider the question of how do we live our lives now, we must remember that we are about to deploy to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. We need to stay focused on our mission as United States soldiers. We need to look out for one another and help each other out. After all we are part of the 1st Cav Division, the First Team we are the Mustang family, a family of professional highly trained soldiers.
So as we remember Private Bird today let us not forget to focus on the positive, in fact let us dwell on the positive. I repeat let us dwell on the positive. Let us remember that friends and family are a gift from God, that friends and family are to be treasured and cherished. Let us be thankful for the memories that our friends give us, let those memories fill us and enrich us and make us better people. And lastly let us consider on a personal individual level the question of how do we live our lives now remembering that we are not alone.
Let us pray.
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Please stand as we offer a one minute silent tribute to Private Jimmy Ray Byrd.