The first week before the election I had the opportunity to be a chaperone on a trip out east. This was a guided historical tour of Virginia, Washington DC, New York City, and Philadelphia. We started in Historical Williamsburg and Jamestown. It was great to see the places that I had just learned about in history class. We then went to Monticello and Mt. Vernon to see where two of our first presidents not only lived but walked at one time and it was overwhelming. We got to hear about what they went through when our country was brand new.
We then headed to Washington DC where I had the honor of watching my son participate in the laying of the wreath at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. This ceremony was a proud moment for this mother. I watched my son in his Civil Air Patrol uniform take part in a ceremony honoring a soldier’s life that gave the ultimate sacrifice in our nation’s history. He still has a hard time giving words to the honor that he felt during this ceremony.
We saw the many monuments in Washington DC. We listened to two Vietnam Veterans tell us their stories and helped one of them find a friend’s name on the Wall. I watched the students, with tears in their eyes, each go up and thank the men for their service. Both soldiers said it was their honor and job.
We went to Lincoln memorial and saw the place where Martin Luther King Jr. stood and made his “I have a Dream” speech. We saw the MLK Jr. Memorial and read many of his quotes. The one that stuck with me for the duration of the trip was, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
On our last day, we saw the 9/11 museum. It brought back many memories of where I was that day. However, the biggest memory came to me as I came to the last part of the museum as they had many cards that were sent to the police officers, firefighters, and all others who went and helped. I remembered that we as a country came together as one. We were Americans! We hugged each other, we prayed with each other, we loved each other.
As I traveled home I thought of how we, Americans, were fifteen years later. We are now unfriending people because they don’t think the same way we do; they voted for the other candidate, they disagree with us. We are calling people names because they believe what they believe and not what we believe.
Matthew 22:36-39 of the NIV says, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” If we truly followed these commandments we could drive out hate. By being light we can drive out the darkness in our nation.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a light in our world, he loved all, even his enemies. My New Year’s resolution isn’t losing weight, eating healthier, or exercising more; it is being a light in this dark world and loving more.
Dear Heavenly Father, I love you, Lord, and I thank you that you are in control and nothing happens without it passing through your hands. I ask that you show me how to love others, even when they have a different opinion than I do. Allow your love to flow through me and shine into the lives of those around me. Help me accept others for who they are and see them as the beautiful people you made them to be.