Yet another type of season greets me this spring for I have retired from the Department of Veterans Affairs after 25 years of government service. I, frankly, looked forward to this new status. My bedside alarm continues to go off at 6 a.m. and I still get a rush of pleasure by reaching over to its blaring noise and gently slam down the small button that signals that my life has changed. I am now on a different mission; I am retired.
My first month was spent doing laundry, washing dishes, getting groceries and sweeping floors. Soap operas and old TV shows offered a brief satisfaction, yet there really must be more to do than sit in a chair watching old TV shows. There had to be more to my life and it would be up to me to make it so. This reality hit me one morning, when I received a phone call from Ken Musselmann, the DAV Adjutant for the Department of California, and he reported that Kathy Gambrella, a wonderful lady who served as office manager for the California DAV had died suddenly. She was a bulwark of strength, a professional caring person who succumbed to a terrible cancer. She was a person who had given her all to DAV'ers. California will truly miss her gifts. For me her last gift was a lesson that can speak to all of us.
It was a lesson about life and how it should be lived. Each moment God has given us is special and it must be invested, nurtured, and not wasted. Kathy's gift to all that knew her was simple. She had cancer. It shortened her life, but it did not diminish her ability to give and love and live out her life values.
This Memorial Day we stop and recognize the gifts of service and commitment of those who have died defending our freedom. As we feel the pain of lost opportunities, lost time together, absent guidance and love and caring, may we also take comfort from knowing that those who have died have given us a tremendous gift.
Our responsibility is to not waste it and not to complain about life, but like Kathy, to live fully with our values and purpose. Our faith can give us these values. And our friends who have passed have given us the means to be free to live them. Memorial Day helps us to focus on these gifts. As your National Chaplain I would ask you to simply remember the day. I would ask us to stop our routines, to remember the gifts and to be grateful. In this we can honor our dead and recommit ourselves to a greater purpose. We can for the moment stop being Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Moslem, or Buddhist. We can for the moment be Americans who know something about freedom, justice and equality, and realize how and why we are who we are.
In all of our seasons what better tribute can we give than to stop and be grateful and give simple respect as we use and honor the gifts of our fallen comrades. May God bless us and keep us safe in all our seasons.
Reverend Edward Bastille, National Chaplain
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|Date:||May 1, 2006|
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