“Etched in Stone”

More than 58,000 names

As of 05/2015, there are 58,307 names. (wikipedia)

“I’ll also give a clear, smooth stone inscribed with your new name . . .” Revelation 2:17b

It is awesome and sobering to walk the length of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC. I had wanted to visit the memorial for a long time. A member of my family died in the Vietnam War. I found him among the 58,307 brave, fallen heroes. Running my hand over his name, etched in the smooth granite surface, it gave me a sickening feeling to think about the awful price his death extracted from his parents, sibling, and others who loved him. Yet, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride that my cousin was willing to fight, and give his life if necessary, to defend his homeland.

Recently while rifling through boxes of old greeting cards, I came across a sweet one. On the front of this slightly yellowed card, was a sketch of a tiny baby, but it was the words on the inside, that made it so special. As I read my handwriting, I was instantly transported back to an awesome time; the beginning of my motherhood.

In my hands, once again, I held the birth announcement for our first child, a baby boy. On the card I had written the details we parents couldn’t wait to tell family and friends. Naturally they wanted to know the time of his birth, how much he weighed, and how many inches in length from the top of his head to his toes, and we eagerly shared it!

My, how time has changed everything. I can’t pull that card out now and tease him a little, reminding him how tiny and wrinkled he was when he was brand new. I can’t tell him, once again, how it felt to hold him for the first time. So many wonderful firsts to remember. So many memories to treasure, especially now that suicide has robbed me of his life.

I haven’t written to my precious firstborn lately. I think I will write an update on the backside of this card. Of course it won’t all fit, but we will pretend that it does. You don’t mind if I share it with you, do you?

“My Sweet Son, I loved picking out your name before you were born. I felt so proud the first time I wrote your name on this little card which I quickly mailed to family and friends, so they could share in our joy. It didn’t seem real that you were ours . . . even after all the pain to bring you into the world. Tiny and sweet, you were a precious bundle sent straight from heaven and into our waiting arms.

“How can it be that the only way I see your name from now on is on your marker? So cold. Unfeeling. Impersonal. So final is your resting place. Etched in bronze is the day you were born, and the day you died. How can it be that all we have left of you is in bronze? How can it be that all we have left to remind us that you once lived is a dash? How can a dash represent your life? So unfair! The ache in my heart reminds me that the time you had on this earth was much too short. The raised bronze letters, that spell your name, are more durable than a baby card, but they don’t give me joy. I look down at your name, your beautiful name . . . and the forever river of tears begins to flow.

“Your sleep will be sweet, my precious son, until we meet again (Prov. 3:24). Until then, I write to honor your life and your name. I write to encourage others who grieve. I write to inspire hope when all seems hopeless. I write to remind all of us that there is a higher power larger than ourselves. This higher power, on whom my hope is centered, is Jesus Christ, the Living Hope. Because He lives, we have eternity to look forward to. Because He lives, life is more than dates and dashes. Because He lives, we will have new life without end. My son, no more will your name be etched in stone, bronze, or marble. No more will you need to be etched in my heart . . . when at last I see your beautiful face.”

Love you forever,


“I’ll also give a clear, smooth stone inscribed with your new name . . .” Revelation 2:17b

Verses shared: The Message Bible (MSG), New International Version (NIV)



4 thoughts on ““Etched in Stone”

    • I wish I knew how, however, since the names are military deceased, google Vietnam Memorial to see what you can find out. I used the picture as the illustration for my piece. I don’t know if you have military death from this time that didn’t get on the wall or if you might be thinking that the wall includes deaths by suicide. May you find what you are looking for. Blessings, Gracie

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