Influence

Today I attended a funeral. The deceased was the father of a friend. Although I never met him, I was so impressed by the immense influence he exerted during his 87 years. His name was James S. Nugent, and he was a true American hero. Mr. Nugent served the United States Army during WWII and Korea. He received two Purple Hearts, two Silver Stars, and one Bronze Star. While attending the visitation and funeral I heard many stories about Mr. Nugent. Stories of generosity, service, dependability, integrity … the kind of stories a good life leaves behind. As I listened to three ministers share their recollections of his life and loves I wished that I had had the opportunity to get to know him. The presentation of the flag that draped his coffin was especially meaningful and symbolic.

Winnsboro, Louisiana has a giant flag flying on one of the main streets in town. On national holidays hundreds of flags are on display, each representing a veteran. This was a program that was either started by Mr. Nugent or heavily supported by him. In a time of American cynicism, I find patriotic gratitude refreshing and touching. So when two servants of our military system folded the flag and handed it to Mrs. Nugent, there were many tears on the family pew… and some on mine as well.

Every life touches another, and some touch many. Every human will one day face death. We stumble and weep when we encounter the death of our loved ones. Ultimately, though, we must face our own. What will be said about us on that day? What lives will we have touched? My friend Mike recently wrote about the legacy he wanted to leave behind for his children.

How have you loved? I think the answer to that question shines a light on our influence. How did you show your love for your family? Your community? Your country?

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. ~ John 13:35

Thanks for reading,

John

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