We have railroad tracks that pass right across from the entrance of our country subdivision and while we can’t see the trains passing by from our house, we can sure hear and feel them! I’ve been enthralled with trains for many years and was excited to see the tracks by our new home when we first put down a deposit on the house. My enjoyment of trains was heightened when I took six youth across country in the late 1970’s on the California Zephyr from the San Francisco Bay Area to Chicago and then caught a regional train to the American Baptist National Camp in Green Lake Wisconsin.
Then I was permanently hooked as a train watcher every time we went camping up in the Sierra’s as trains converge in that part of the state of California for their crossing of the majestic Rocky Mountains on their travels both east and west across the United States. There is even a large train museum in Portola California near the Nevada border that highlights the history of the trains crossing the mountains since the 1800’s. After that first train calendar I purchased at the museum in the 1990’s, I have purchased a train calendar produced by Trains Magazine every year since!
But back to our train! Since I wanted to get some pictures of the train in our neighborhood, I began marking my calendar last summer every time the train came by. I was wanting to establish its schedule so Piper and I could be set up with camera in hand at the entrance to our subdivision when we knew it would be approaching. But alas… it seems to run according to its own ever-changing schedule both day and night.
I finally got smart and looked up the track layout for Norfolk Southern Railroad, the company that owns the train and tracks. It would seem that our line is actually a spur that runs from the small railway hub in Fuquay-Varina south to Fayetteville and the Fort Bragg US Army military installation next door.
The Fort Bragg base just happens to be the largest military installation in the world with over 50,000 active duty personnel. It is home to the Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps, the United States Army Special Operations Command as well as to the U.S. Army Forces Command, U.S. Army Reserve Command, and Womack Army Medical Center. It also maintains an Air Force airfield as well as an Army airfield that supports the needs of airborne and special operations forces on post.
So, as you can imagine, it is a busy place! I do admit, that I have been a little disappointed as we don’t really get to watch as many military aircraft flying over our home that I thought we would. But we do get the occasional low flying transports and Apache helicopters! But the train… well, it is still a hit-and-miss as far as my capturing it with a digital image is concerned.
Lately though, it has been running with more frequency. I saw in a recent news report from a local TV station that one of the groups from Fort Bragg was being deployed overseas in a month or so. Therefore, I figured that this could be the reason for the increase in shipments of material coming through.
As I was helping my wife up for the day this morning, I began to sense the familiar low sounding roar of the diesel engines and the distant distinct whistle as the train neared our location heading south to the Fort. And with that inspiration and patriotic thoughts of Memorial Day today, I began to consider the many young men and women that would be shipping out for active duty when the day arrived. Then I reverently brought to my remembrance the thousands of soldiers that have died while in the service of our country. Those who put their lives on the line so that you and I can live in the greatest country in the world, with freedoms and privileges which many in other countries can only dream about.
Wow… As I meditate on those brave men and women that sacrifice themselves for the ideals that the USA was established on, I become speechless. Then I want to cry when I think about those who would choose to not respect our flag, disparage our country and dishonor those in uniform. I am ever reminded of an episode of the PTL Club that Piper and I watched back in the early 1980’s when Jim Bakker was interviewing a Vietnam Veteran, a young Marine officer who lost multiple limbs while serving in the jungles of Vietnam.
This brave soldier gave the testimony of his faith and then brought the audience to tears when he described how people had spit on him because of the uniform he proudly wore when he came home and limped with the aid of crutches through the airport to greet his family. I have never been able to forget the picture I saw from his explanation of the utter disrespect and dishonor that those people held toward him and our country from my memory.
As far as my wife and I are concerned, we will kneel before our Father God in prayer and reverence and proudly stand with our hands on our hearts every time the US flag is raised, our country’s national anthem is sung and when a brave US soldier in uniform walks by! I can’t help myself but to do this… It is the way I was raised, the way we raised our kids and an uncontestable truth that we deeply behold in our hearts.
What do you think? Would you stand with us?
Have an enjoyable Memorial Day today. I would encourage you to take some time to reflect with honor and respect, on those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms, and to those who proudly serve (& have served) under the banner of the United States Armed Forces.
That’s what Piper and I are expecting to do today… how about you?