Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Great (07/06/06)
TITLE: The Power of a Name
By Ann FitzHenry
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Boarding the downtown Metrorail, I blended in with the other tourists. As the passengers chatted about the attractions on the National Mall, my stomach tightened as we drew closer to Union Station. How would I find him? All I knew was his name.
As the train doors opened, the sounds and smells of the city greeted my small town sensibilities. Like a single snowflake in a blizzard, I joined the bustling foot traffic for the last few steps of my journey. The task at hand seemed almost impossible in such a big and busy place. Taking a deep breath, I began my search. I couldn’t chicken out now. I had traveled 1100 miles just to see him. For the first few hours I was buoyed by my sense of adventure. Realizing my dream, I basked in the history of the nation’s capital. As my search continued, however, I began to give up hope. I had looked everywhere. I couldn’t find him. Disappointment and doubt plagued me as I studied the names listed on panel 49W. What if I was mistaken?
Struggling with thoughts of defeat, my heart stopped when he suddenly appeared. In a wave of emotion, I reached for him through the crowd. I could almost feel the outline of his face when I caressed the letters of his name. In the shadow of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, we met for the first time. The name lovingly written in grandma’s shaky hand was immortalized on The Wall.
When my journey began in the pages of the family Bible, I never thought He would lead me here. Trapped in the relentless pursuits of the material world, I had lost life’s meaning. As I searched for myself, I found Tom. A long-lost second cousin, Tom died before I was born. Killed at the age of 22, he gave the ultimate sacrifice in a faraway place named Binh Duong. Drafted by his country, he answered the call with all that he had. As I whispered “thank you” the words seemed hollow and inadequate for a real American hero.
Kneeling at the base of the monument, I started as a tiny hand brushed my sleeve. “Why are you crying?” a small voice asked. Searching for words, I clenched my fists to keep from drowning in my own tears. My mind, numb with emotion, lost the ability to speak. As I fought for an explanation, the child turned and ran away.
Overcome with grief, I looked to the heavens. Who else would know of great sacrifice and great love, but God? Surrounded by monuments dedicated to presidents and fallen American heroes, I began to grasp the meaning of John 3:16. Never before had His words been so clear. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 New International Version) In the depths of despair, God gave me hope for a blessed family reunion. My next meeting with Tom wouldn’t be on an ebony wall, but in God’s mansions in the sky. As I gave thanks for a life taken too soon, one search ended and a new one began. At that moment, I discovered the awesome power of a name-Jesus.
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