Our recent visit to a VA hospital was an eye-opening experience. Multiple parking spaces close to the front door were reserved for patients with spinal cord injuries and dozens of empty wheelchairs were lined up in rows outside the entrance ready for use. Just inside the front door, security guards checked everyone’s photo ID.
After passing through security, we entered a large crowded atrium. Many of the men and women were older veterans whose war wounds, if they had them, had long ago healed; but there were also many younger patients steering motorized wheelchairs down the hospital halls – amputees missing an arm or a leg – visible reminders of ongoing global conflicts and those serving our country still in harm’s way.
All of them – the old and the young – confirmed the words engraved on the black marble slab that greeted us at the entrance to the hospital grounds:
The Price of Freedom is Visible Here
Leaving the atrium, we rode a packed elevator up to the intensive care unit where our friend was a patient. A former ICU nurse, I was impressed with the cleanliness, the professionalism, and the level of respect and care our friend was receiving. “If a member of the hospital staff enters my brother’s room and they haven’t met him before, they greet him with affection and thank him for his service to our country,” our friend’s sister explained.
As we drove home later that day, I thought about those words engraved on marble and the visible price of freedom we’d seen in the woundedness of those laying in hospital beds and wandering the halls on crutches or in wheelchairs. I also thought about the visible expressions of gratitude from those who understood the sacrifice and acknowledged it with respect and affection. The price of freedom and the gratitude for the sacrifice were both visible in that place.
As I celebrate our national freedoms this Fourth of July, I will remember the examples of love and respect and gratitude that the hospital staff demonstrated toward those who have sacrificed for our freedoms.
But the bigger lesson in all of this for me, a woman who because of Christ alone lives and breathes and delights in and cherishes the freedoms I have in Christ’s visible sacrifice on the cross, is that the price of that freedom should be visible in how I live and love and in my expressions of affection and gratitude.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” Ephesians 5:1-2 (ESV)
by Patricia Hunter (Pollywog Creek)
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