Remembering Don Cargo

by DanWolgemuth on May 14, 2010

“On behalf of the President of the United States, the Chief of Naval Operations, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s service to Country and the Navy. God bless you and this family, and God bless the United States of America.”

With the bold and somber tones of Taps still ringing in my ears, I heard these words from a Navy Officer while he was positioned on one knee looking directly into the face of my mother-in-law, Eunice Cargo.

“On behalf of a grateful nation…” yes, on behalf of the 300 million individuals that enjoy the fruit of that sacrifice. My family, my friends… even those with strongly differing views, yes, Don Cargo, a World War II and Korean War veteran had served so that all of us can live in freedom and with liberty.

The tears flowed, but not in regret.

Is it possible that Don Cargo, at the age of 83, was just hitting his prime? It seemed to me that this man got deeper, and richer, and wiser, and more tender, and more compassionate every year of his life. Though his body grew weaker, his faith in his Heavenly Father grew stronger. Though his physical capabilities diminished, his capacity to love flourished.

As a cool springtime breeze blew across the cemetery in Bellevue, Michigan, my heart and mind raced; in the delight of having known such a man; and to the pain of losing him; to the trust he extended to me in caring for his daughter; and the prospect of living without him.

In life he served; in death he inspires.

And as the perfectly folded flag landed in Eunice’s hands so too the legacy of Don Cargo. No memorial gift, no floral arrangement, not even a wonderful graveside tribute can do justice to this life well lived.

A grateful nation responds with a continued commitment to freedom and liberty. A grateful son-in-law responds with a vow, a covenant, a promise to carry on with what has been so boldly exhibited. Faith, family and country.

Yes, grateful enough to carry on.

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 5:20

Indeed, we carry on, but not just for Don, but for his Savior and ours.

I love you, Dad.

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