The Unexpected Graveyard

Incheon Landing Memorial

I stood on Radio Hill at incheon.  Its a promontory surrounded by ship yards and the Sea.  It looks like most of Korea now, a grassy knoll next to industry.  We were there for a “Staff Ride” to learn about the Incheon Landings that stated the first great push in the Korean War.  A different Lieutenant took their turn to explain the importance of the landings and the many facets that lead to its success.  I paid attention, but was distracted, as usual.

I looked out over the hill to the Sea and saw a graveyard.  There was no hill or field with marked tombstones.  The Sea itself is the graveyard, full of the bodies of soldiers who never made it back home one way or another.  I understood the weight of the decisions those generals, admirals, the myriad of officers made leading up that point.  All of those decisions weighed on the lives of America’s Greatest Weapon, the soldiers who went from boat to shore to fight for a people they never knew.

What else would the Chaplain think about but the sanctity of the lives that were gone.  I’ve done my fair share of funerals and graveside services, and, as I always remind other Chaplains, “Gravesides are for the living to say good-bye.  They are of no benefit to the dead.”  But here was a graveside so immense, who could tell the good-byes enough?  What kind of closure did the families have back then?

And in the same thought, as quickly as the wind blew, I turned to praise the One who will one day call the dead from the Sea into Life Everlasting.  One day, not even the Sea can hold back all that she possesses.


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