Four years ago now, Veterans Day 2012, I wrote a piece remembering men who had died in combat, as I had come to know them through the combat vets I’d then had the honor to work with. A year later, I re-published the piece, remembering the three men with whom I’d worked in Indianapolis who had died that previous year.
A mere year ago, I wrote a piece on All Souls Day about another combat veteran, Sergeant First Class (Ret.) Jonathan (JD) Downing.
This past Tuesday was All Saints Day in the Western Christian calendar,and Wednesday was All Souls Day, days to remember those who have died, to be thankful for their lives, to have them rekindled in our souls. The church I now attend also recognizes these days by offering a time on the following Sunday to light a candle to remember, to give thanks, to rekindle.
Given that in my day-to-day work I am now back to listening to the lives of combat veterans both younger and much older, I found myself this morning, as I was approaching the front of the sanctuary, so very aware of all the deaths of War, of those who fight it, of those who are caught up in its horror, of those who suffer from its complexities for months, for years, for decades.
Have I really been listening to them? I have been asking myself these past few posts. Will I really listen to them? I must keep asking myself.
Yet as I reached the front of the church, took the candle and lit it via one of the candles previously lit—lit it via one of the lives already remembered, thanked, rekindled by someone who had just stood before me—only one phrase could come to my mind.
Pro tibi, JD.
For you, JD.
And as I lodged the candle into the sands spread out to hold it, another line came to me, one typed into that post one year ago, one whispered at a coffin in Indiana over three years ago, one that still, I hope, in some way shows JD now, as I hope it did Porthos then, whether in spiritual truth or in material memory only, that I honestly tried my best.
To listen. Not to War. To him. To them.
Cruciatus consumptus est, mi amice. Requiesce in pace.
The torment is over, my friend. Rest in peace.
Yes, mi amici, my friends.
Rest in peace.