A Memorable Legacy

I will do a funeral service today for Bobby Greenwood, a veteran of our military who served his country before serving was cool. In fact, he very likely never received the honor we will give him with today because he served during an unpopular war. His flag draped coffin will display his family’s pride in his service and the memorable legacy he leaves behind.

 

It strikes me that he will be remembered for service performed decades ago when he was very young. He probably didn’t consider the value of that service at the time, especially when many gave it very little value at all.

 

I was caught by surprise yesterday to hear my dad say his service as a Marine was probably one of the best things he had ever done. It certainly changed the course of his life and gave him skills he would never have learned on the streets of South Oklahoma City. But the memorable legacy remains even more decades later than the man we will honor today.

 

Serving in the military isn’t the only memorable legacy that is accomplished early in one’s life. As I spoke to this man’s children and grandchildren this week, his role as a father—decades ago—changed his life and theirs forever. The fact that he was a young man when he became a father doesn’t change how important his role would be for years to come.

 

We sometimes think of life’s achievements coming late in life when we have the experience to write a book or design an invention after years of research or experience. Many of our favorite inventions came at the hands of someone in their 70’s or 80’s. Their legacy was decades in the making while their life experience built to its peak.

 

If you are a young father or mother, you are building a memorable legacy in spite of your age and comparative lack of experience. Mundane tasks like going to work, changing diapers, cleaning the living room and cooking a meal are the building blocks to a legacy that will remain long after you are gone. I can’t tell you the number of times a family sat with me planning a funeral for a loved one and spoke of favorite dishes they ate from the hands of a loving parent. It really does make a difference.

 

Memories are funny things. You can plan for them the way a special occasion for a marriage proposal is executed. But most memories happen while we aren’t paying attention. The famous flag raisings at Iwo Jima and Ground Zero were accomplished by people raising a flag not by those trying to create a legacy. Just because you don’t mean to create a legacy event doesn’t mean it won’t be remembered powerfully.

 

As you go about your Christmas get-togethers and return to the regular schedule of life after the holidays, remember that the legacy you leave may be far more valuable than the feeling you had at the moment it was created.

a veteran of our military who served his country before serving was cool. In fact, he very likely never received the honor we will give him with today because he served during an unpopular war. His flag draped coffin will display his family’s pride in his service and the memorable legacy he leaves behind.

 

It strikes me that he will be remembered for service performed decades ago when he was very young. He probably didn’t consider the value of that service at the time, especially when many gave it very little value at all.

 

I was caught by surprise yesterday to hear my dad say his service as a Marine was probably one of the best things he had ever done. It certainly changed the course of his life and gave him skills he would never have learned on the streets of South Oklahoma City. But the memorable legacy remains even more decades later than the man we will honor today.

 

Serving in the military isn’t the only memorable legacy that is accomplished early in one’s life. As I spoke to this man’s children and grandchildren this week, his role as a father—decades ago—changed his life and theirs forever. The fact that he was a young man when he became a father doesn’t change how important his role would be for years to come.

 

We sometimes think of life’s achievements coming late in life when we have the experience to write a book or design an invention after years of research or experience. Many of our favorite inventions came at the hands of someone in their 70’s or 80’s. Their legacy was decades in the making while their life experience built to its peak.

 

If you are a young father or mother, you are building a memorable legacy in spite of your age and comparative lack of experience. Mundane tasks like going to work, changing diapers, cleaning the living room and cooking a meal are the building blocks to a legacy that will remain long after you are gone. I can’t tell you the number of times a family sat with me planning a funeral for a loved one and spoke of favorite dishes they ate from the hands of a loving parent. It really does make a difference.

 

Memories are funny things. You can plan for them the way a special occasion for a marriage proposal is executed. But most memories happen while we aren’t paying attention. The famous flag raisings at Iwo Jima and Ground Zero were accomplished by people raising a flag not by those trying to create a legacy. Just because you don’t mean to create a legacy event doesn’t mean it won’t be remembered powerfully.

 

As you go about your Christmas get-togethers and return to the regular schedule of life after the holidays, remember that the legacy you leave may be far more valuable than the feeling you had at the moment it was created.

 
Dr. Matt Crain writes weekly for the Sunday Newspaper from his Connecting Fathers and Families ministry.