A Shoebox Filled With Love

by DanWolgemuth on November 11, 2016

“Greater love has no one that this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”  ~ John 15:13

Bruce Cargo was a young man when he walked into the jungle of Viet Nam. Thousands of miles from his family in Port Huron, Michigan, surrounded by the confusion of war, Bruce stewarded the honor of his nation and the fervor of his mission.

The fragile state of his own mortality pressed in every day. Stealing oxygen from the lungs of hope.

Back in Port Huron, the Cargo family surrendered the use of a ping pong table for a more noble cause. An assembly line is what that table became, and while it was shoeboxes that got filled each week, it was hope and love and courage and gratitude that got delivered in the jungle. Don and Eunice Cargo wanted to obliterate any remnant of concern that their son’s efforts were forgotten or not valued.

Each week in the Cargo household, love got real. Don, a Navy veteran himself, carefully wrapped each item and positioned them with purpose inside the box. Vienna sausages, paperback books, magazines, snacks… the scent of home, the expression of love. Ammunition for the heart.

April 26th was Bruce’s birthday, and a three-layered chocolate cake was tradition on West Village Lane in Port Huron… so Eunice baked and Don packed. Dark rich chocolate layers surrounded by popcorn. A can of frosting (this would never have done at home, but the realities of war demanded innovation and compromise) and a birthday party arrived in the jungles of Southeast Asia.

A shoebox. A lifeline. Love becoming flesh. Spontaneous expression in rigorous discipline. Weekly. Fuel for a soldier’s soul. A compass in the chaos.

No cell phone, no internet… but love on demand.

Veteran’s Day, every day.

A shoebox. A proxy. A placeholder for the day that Bruce would arrive at Detroit Metro Airport.

From the dangers of the battle to the toxic political atmosphere that welcomed him home, Bruce never doubted. He was loved, respected, admired, and celebrated… and he is to this day.

A hero. My hero.

Heroes need shoeboxes full of reminders that they are loved, and missed, and esteemed…

On April 8th, 1978 I married Bruce Cargo’s sister. On April 8th, 1978 I became the son-in-law of Don and Eunice Cargo.

I remain humbled by Bruce’s gift of freedom to me. I remain inspired by Don and Eunice’s example of love.

Veteran’s Day. Time to fill a shoebox. Time to embrace a hero. Time to steward the sacrifice. Time to convert a ping pong table into an assembly line.

On behalf of a grateful nation.

Thank you, Bruce Cargo.

Thank you, Mom.

I honor your legacy, Dad… one shoebox at a time

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