Last week I was asked to serve the wine at the altar today, which I do every few weeks. Until the event was explained I didn’t have any idea what a special honor it would be. This is the Sunday that is closest to Veterans Day, and was that day chosen by Ed and Jane Blacksmith to honor the memory of their son James Patrick (JP) by giving a pair of silver chalices and patens (the plates that hold the bread) to the church. JP was a US Marine 2nd Lt. who was killed in action by a sniper in Fallujah, Iraq, on November 11, 2004, Veterans Day ten years ago. The two of us who served today were Ed and me, the first to serve from the beautiful new sterling silver chalices after their blessing for use.
I never knew JP, but I’ve provided links to a couple of articles that tell about him and his amazing life, and his death doing what he had always wanted to do, graduating from the US Naval Academy, and serving as a US Marine Officer. His father had been a Marine officer in Vietnam, and other family members had been Marines before that. His best friend and colleague in Iraq had this comment: “He had a code of ethics and morals and a presence about him… He was the old breed. Men respected him a lot, he was a great leader. It’s better to die a piece of broken jade than live as a piece of clay.”
By far the best and most complete article describing the man, and his father, with whom I was honored to serve today, is the first one below. It is well worth reading, and the one to read if you only read one.