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Sermon-How to Meet Your Giants

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How to Meet Your Giant!

Text:  I Samuel 17:1-4

“41 So the Philistine came, and began drawing near to David, and the man who bore the shield went before him. 42 And when the Philistine looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking. 43 So the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 And the Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!”

45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

48 So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and RAN toward the army to meet the Philistine.”—How to Meet Your Giant!

MEET-Andre Rousimoff. Born on May 19, 1946 in Grunoble, France Afflicted with Acromegaly, a disease of the pituitary gland that causes excessive growth.  Raised in obscurity outside of Paris.  From his earliest years, Rene was different.  He kept growing and growing.  By the end of his life on January 29th, 1993, He grew to stand 7’4’’ inches tall.  He grew to weigh 528 lbs.  He grew to wear size 28 shoes.  He was the  perpetual nemesis of the Undertaker, Shawn Micheals, and Rowdy Roddy Piper, and finally Hulk Hogan.

You may recognize him as Rene, but by his stage name--Andre the Giant. While alive, Andre cut a frightening figure while in the ring.  Andre struck terror into the hearts of his opponents.  Whether he was burying the Undertaker, drop kicking the Russian, or hammering the Junk Yard Dogs, Andre’s performance, as evidenced by his great fan following was great act.  And that’s all it was!  Andre’s intensity in the ring?  All an act!  Every bodyslam, every prat fall, every simulated stagger, every starry-eyed stumble into the ropes,--it was  all an act.

Meet another giant who is not acting, but stone cold serious.  Meet Goliath

Born in the Philistine city of Gath, he stands 6 cubits and a span (12 feet tall-1SP 370), Goliath weighs in at almost 900 pounds.   Meet Goliath the Philistine, representing one of those warlike sea people who came to Canaan through the Aegean basin and who destroyed the Hittite Empire.  But they overreached.  Around 1190 BC the Philistines attacked Egypt under Ramses III.  He defeated them and resettled them along the coast of Palestine.  There they established the ferocious Philistine Pentapolis (5 cities), Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath.  These 5 city-states formed the most powerful confederation in this corner of the world.  Goliath represents this federation of warrior states.  These Philistines were relentless warriors

Shamgar fought them—Judges 3:31

Samson fought them—Judges 13-16

Samuel fought them.

Goliath the huge Philistine  is like my kids say—“humanicus giganticus.” He was a fighting man from his youth.  And on this day, it is Goliath whose roaring sends shivers of naked fear down the spines of the cowering Israelite army.  Dressed out in 125 pounds of bronzed armor— he reflects the most advanced military technology of the day.  Bronze helmet to protect his head, bronze plates to cover his shins covers like the Greeks wore, Goliath brandishes a spear with an iron tip.  That thing looks like a flagpole strapped between his shoulders.  He looms over Israel’s horizon like a man-mountain of fighting technology—The original robo-cop and man of steel.

And Goliath shows up everyday, on time, and gathers across from the Israelites (verse 20).  Every day, for 40 days, he lumbers out into the valley between the encampments of the Israelites and the Philistines at Socoh near Ephes-Dammim, about 17 miles southwest of Bethlehem, on Israel’s home court.  “This day I defy the ranks of Israel…Choose somebody to fight me.  If I win, you’re enslaved.  If he wins, we’re enslaved!”   And Israel would line up everyday, when Goliath would step out from the ranks of his army to challenge them, the Israelites would turn and literally run from Goliath.  Israel is great form, no Fight.

Where’s Saul?

Meet Saul.  Saul, this is your moment.  You were called and chosen and anointed for this very day. 

Chosen for this very moment  1 Sam 9:16 “ To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me.”

Saul, chosen to be Israel’s first king.  30 years old but reigned for 42 years.  Listen to Patriarchs and Prophets, 636  Reign begins gloriously

     “In Saul, God had given to Israel a king after their own heart, as Samuel said when the kingdom was confirmed to Saul at Gilgal, ‘Behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired.’  1 Samuel 12:13. Comely in person, of noble stature and princely bearing, his appearance accorded with their conceptions of royal dignity; and his personal valor and his ability in the conduct of armies were the qualities which they regarded as best calculated to secure respect and honor from other nations. They felt little solicitude that their king should possess those higher qualities which alone could fit him to rule which justice and equity. They did not ask for one who had true nobility of character, who possessed the love and fear of God. They had not sought counsel from God as to the qualities a ruler should possess,

in order to preserve their distinctive, holy character as His chosen people. They were not seeking God's way, but their own way. Therefore God gave them such a king as they desired—one whose character was a reflection of their own. Their hearts were not in submission to God, and their king also was unsubdued by divine grace. Under the rule of this king they would obtain the experience necessary in order that they might see their error, and return to their allegiance to God.”

King Saul, never committed himself to defend the honor of Israel.  And before we “boo” him too vigorously, let us remember that on paper, Saul’s position is a reasonable one.  He was Israel’s first king.  No successor had been appointed.  There was no vice-King.  The new administration needed continuity.  Why put the monarch’s life at unnecessary risk?  It would not be wise. A carefully thought plan was needed to avert the unnecessary loss of life.  And if Saul was hurt, harmed, or injured, who would lead out in Israel’s strategic planning? 

But the answer to Saul’s reluctance is not found a commendable strategic calculation.   There is a time to commiserate and there is a time to act.  The answer is found in the earlier verse 1 Samuel 16:14 “The spirit of God had left Saul.”  Thus he trembles in his tent. . .

This response to Goliath reminds us of the recent heavyweight fight between Oliver McCall and Lennox Lewis, February 1997, after round 4 after McCall throws just 4 punches.  Then in the middle of round 5, he breaks down and starts crying in the middle of the fight.  McCall, this 6’4” 240 heavyweight fighter, broke down and started crying.

That’s Israel before Goliath.  When her army should be going toe-to-toe in the center of the ring with Goliath, Israel stands in the corner crying.  But not for long.

Meet David.

His story begins in the back hill country of Bethlehem.  A rural country boy from a backhills village in  Judea.  David is one of the 8 sons of Jesse, another unknown.  David, a non-pedigreed shepherd boy, hails from few miles south of Jerusalem (PP-637).  In this city David was nothing more than a keeper of sheep, a taxi driver, airport janitor, grocery store checkout lad, a fast-food waitress.    But God sees not as man sees.  God had his hand upon David.  It is only after the final fatal rejection of King Saul, David steps into the center ring of biblical narrative.  One day, the old man Samuel shows up for an ordination . . .stops a Jesse’s home.  7 sons line up. . .Eliab, Adinadab, Shammah, each of them is passed over.  But only after God chastises Samuel for being more focussed on the container rather than the content “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” Samuel asks “There must be another.”  They send for David, and the old prophet anoints him in the presence of his brothers and Father as the next king of Israel.  But before promotion, comes service.

One day old man Jesse sends David on a mission.  Walking up to the front lines of the army of Israel, David is charged to deliver a half bushel of grain and 10 packs of cheese, 10 crusts of bread—Poor people’s provisions to his brothers.  When he arrives, he hears the blasphemous bellowing of Goliath.  David asks “Who is this giant that defies the armies of the living God?” asks David.  Now the whispering begins, “David must have lost his mind.  He doesn’t know who Goliath is!”    I will go and fight him.”

This word ripples into Saul’s tent. Saul summons David to his chambers. . .And for the first time David and Saul meet.  Narrative suspense is at work, because Saul does not know that he is talking to his replacement.

Saul replies, “You are not able to go and fight him.”  Listen carefully to David’s answer because it instructs us how to meet our giants.  David’s answer teaches us how to meet our giants.

For, if we keep on living, our giants will find us. Giants come to us when our challenges outstrip our resources—when we are outmatched and outgunned.  Whether the giant is the giant of a failed relationship, and the baggage it leaves.  Whether the giant is the giant of incurable illness with its taxing emotional demands.  Whether the giant is the giant of financial difficulty.  Or whether the giant is the giant of personal rejection.  Our giants are real.  Sometimes we face our giants.  Some friends both diagnosed with cancer.  Young couple you meet your giant when the odds are against your success.  Yours might be the Goliath of an abused childhood.  A nine year old girl was raped in South Africa  because an HIV positive older gentleman believed that having a young girl would cure his infection.  When all the other children are out playing, she sits by herself rocking from the trauma.  Or it might the Goliath of a helplessly unhappy marriage.  Yours might be the giant of a deteriorating financial situation.  Yours might be the Goliath of a scarred childhood.  Yours might be the Goliath of the unexpected loss of a parent or worse yet—the death of a child!  I will never forget that gray Michigan day when I preached the eulogy of an unborn child who died in its mother’s womb.  The almost unbearable pain of seeing the weeping Father carrying that shoebox sized casket.  The brooding gloom of the funeral.  I will never forget looking into the vacant eyes of the mother as she struggled to hold onto her faith.  The death of her unborn son was her Giant.  Make no mistake about it, giants are real!

1.      Download your spiritual resume. David presents his resume—“A Lion ---attacked my dad’s sheep.  Then a bear with evil intentions showed up.  I went after it, plucked the sheep out of its mouth, and when it turned on me I struck it and killed it—I killed a lion and a bear and I will strike down this uncircumcised Philistine.’

Here is the first choice we should make when we meet our giant. . .Your spiritual resume is the history of God’s selection and protection.  Every person has a history with God.  You have a history with God. -The Great Controversy--481 whatever God has done for you is on your spiritual resume. . . The day you were born, and the day you were reborn Your birthday and your rebirthday.  The day you were selected, and everyday you were protected. . .

How he created you, recreated you.  Protected you.  Supported you.  And whatever you have done for God is on your resume.

"A book of remembrance" is written before God, in which are recorded the good deeds of "them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name." Malachi 3:16.

Their words of faith, their acts of love, are registered in heaven. Nehemiah refers to this when he says: "Remember me, O my God, . . . and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God." Nehemiah 13:14. In the book of God's remembrance every deed of righteousness is immortalized. There every temptation resisted, every evil overcome, every word of tender pity expressed, is faithfully

chronicled. And every act of sacrifice, every suffering and sorrow endured for Christ's sake, is recorded. Says the psalmist: "Thou tellest my wanderings: put Thou my tears into Thy bottle: are they not in Thy book?" Psalm 56:8.  God says that the day of your birth is recorded—The day of your rebirth is recorded  its on your spiritual resume Your victories are on your spiritual resume—How God protected you is on your resume . . .

Churches have resumes

October 22, 1844

1863 SDA Church organized

October 1888

June 1863

The second choice that Giant facers must meet is 

2. Upload your God-given identity.  David’s secure self-confidence reminds us that in our fight against our giants identity issues must be decisively resolved. When David says “I will go” Saul then dresses him in his kingly armor.  David’s second set of I statements tells us about choice two. . .—David says “I cannot go in these. because I am not used to them” (Verses 38-40).   In volume 3T-218 listen to the Lord’s servant  “Saul consented and had his own kingly armor placed upon David. But he would not consent to wear it. . .To put on Saul's armor would give the impression that he was a warrior, when he was only little David who tended the sheep. He did not mean that any credit be given to the armor of Saul, for his trust was in the Lord God of Israel.”  So David takes Saul’s armor off.  Then picked up his staff, his stones, and his sling.  David is saying to Saul (and to us) “I can only meet my giant in my own personality and style.  I cannot be you, O King.  I must be myself.”

Back to the story.  Now the moment arrives—Day 41 dawns, yellow shafts of sunlight stab though the morning mists.  Field grass awash with dew yields to the giant’s swagger.  Goliath lumbers onto the field of battle with great pomp and circumstance, armor bearer before him.  Israel takes up its lifeless battle formation once again.  Goliath roars, but this time, a young stripling squirts from behind Israel’s lines.  Young David approaches the Philistine.  Goliath hisses in disdain at David:

“Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?”

Now David Speaks  “You come at me with a sword and a spear.  The latest fighting technology.  Years of boot camp experience.  Years in the Philistine military academy, ROTC, West Point, and the Citadel.  You come and I come.  Listen David says, Goliath imprecates David by every impotent God he knows, as if these verbal fireballs will melt down David’s courage.  But he doesn’t know, its not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

“I come . . .” with lots of letters behind my name

With years of military training. . .

With the support of 25 government agencies

With the Good Housekeeping seal of approval

With exclusive membership privileges in the most upscale clubs

With racial and ethnic privilege

With a two parent family

I come fresh from me psychic friend Ms Clio—tarot cards.  I come crystal gazing.

I come with a six figure income

I come in the name of my church and my pastor

I come with who I know

I come with who knows me

I come with Armani, Hilfiger, FUBU

I come as a fourth generation Israelite and a glittering family name.  No No No.  I come not in my name but in the Name

Isa 9:6:  “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and His name shall be called wonderful, counselor, the mighty God, the prince of Peace

Phil 2:9  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name that is above every other name - - That at the Name of Jesus, every knee should bow

“The Name of Jesus is so sweet, I love its music to repeat.. .

“There is a name I love to hear, I love to sing its worth, It sounds like music to my ear, the sweetest name on earth. .

“I come . . .now David pulls his secret weapon out of his holster- I come in the name of the Lord God Almighty, the lord of hosts.  Listen to the Bible, in a military setting, I in the name of the Lord of Hosts.  I will strike you down.”  This leads us to the third key for how to meet a giant. . .

3.      Plug into the power of the Name.  This name is the dominant name in the universe.  That at the Name of Jesus  “every knee should bow.”  David's last set of I statements reveals how to meet our giants.  “I come to you in the name of the Lord God Almighty” means that we must meet our giants only after we have the assurance that God is with us in our battles.

When Goliath bolts from behind the Philistine lines brandishing all of his technology, our little stripling David runs toward Goliath to meet him.  This is our little David, who will later ask the question “Shall I lift my eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord.”

This is our David who will later sing ‘Fret not thyself because of evildoers’”

Here is our David  who will later sing “I will trust in the Lord”, and “The Lord is my shepherd.” This is David, who with a fresh sense of the presence of God faces his giant.

David rebukes the evolutionist –“The heavens declare the glory of God

David corrects the hedonist-“Delight thyself in the Lord, and he shall give the desires of thine heart

David redirects the politician- Some trust in chariots, some in horses, but we will trust in the name of our  God”

David corrects the physician  “I am the Lord, who healeth all thy diseases. . .

David inspires the discouraged, “I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in my mouth. . .

David says to the defeated “Don’t let your set backs, make you sit back. . .Turn your stumbling block into steppingstones

Having downloaded his spiritual resume, having uploaded his God-given identity, having plugged into to the name—its giant meeting time. . .

With an assurance born of the presence of God—David runs toward Goliath

Now they meet in center ring, the field of battle—Goliath lumbers forward, incredulous, vomiting out cursings at our shepherd boy. According to Mrs. White Goliath curses David “By every God that he knows” (PP-648).  At this point, things probably don’t look good for David.  I believe that many in the crowd had already planned David’s funeral.  For many in the Israelite army probably felt sorry for this little boy. . . “such a pleasing youth as this throwing himself into the mouth of destruction,” (Matthew Henry)  Right now, things don’t look good for David. . .

The lawyers in the crowd wondered—“Has David made out his will”

The doctors in the crowd dial 911 into o their mobile phones —“Send Ambulance immediately—heavy trauma expected”

Cardiology—lets request the heart—see what a heart for God looks like.

The preachers in the crowd—“Let’s see if we can get the choir to sing one of his psalms at his service.”

But God had chosen David, and the believers in the crowd said “if God be for you, who, can be against you!”  “Go David, Go David, Go!!!”

Get the right perspective. When Goliath came against the Israelites, the soldiers all thought, "He's so big we can never kill him." David looked at the same giant and though, "He's so big I can't miss."

How Do You Look at your giant?

A shoe manufacturer who decided to open the Congo market sent two salesmen to the undeveloped

territory. One salesman cabled back: "Prospect here nil. No one wears shoes." The other salesman reported enthusiastically, "Market potential terrific! Everyone is barefooted."

It’s giant meeting time.  David reaches into his satchel, grabs a baseball sized sling stone, snaps out his leather sling. . . Pop, Pop, Pop, and advances toward the mighty giant.  The giant rises up, lumbers toward.  Now you hear the helicopter whir of that sling churning through the thick air.  Goliath lifts his helmet in his white hot rage.  He must see this strange sight.  Goliath bears down on David. . . “like a stalking mountain, overlaid with brass and iron” (Matthew Henry).  As he lifts his helmet, David releases that stone and with a whiz, the stone slices through the heavy air of the Valley, and with a bone-crunching crack, bites into the forehead of he Philistine ‘s massive head.  The Philistine lumbers forward, his whole body trembles, as if invaded by a hive of alien impulses.  His convulsing body now stiffens as he falls face first to the ground.  Is this the man that made the armies of Israel tremble.  Is this the man that defied the armies of Israel.  Yes this is the man, dead from the single shot of a shepherd’s sling.  Then David mounts the lifeless form of the giant’s body, little shepherd feet standing on that once mighty back, with two hands he unsheathes Goliath’s sword and severs the braggarts head from his trunk, and suddenly a shout of victory explodes from the armies of Israel.

Look at what happens when you meet your giant.  Have you ever thought that God never lets you face a giant just for yourself, success over your giant will bless somebody else.

African Father afflicted with cancer, “…. Gather my children so that they can see how a Christian dies.”

I will never forget how my now deceased mother faced her giant.  In 1984 she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I remember the day that she told me.  We had gathered at Oakwood College for my younger brother’s graduation.  She asked me to take her for a ride to the park.  When we arrived at the park, she said that there was something that she wished to tell me.  She said “Les, I went to the doctor the other day and he told me that he had some news for me that was not good.  He told me that the lump that I had in my breast was cancerous.  And the cancer is malignant.  So take care of yourself, and look out for your younger brother.  He looks up to you and you will be all he has.”

When I heard the word “malignant” I could not contain myself.  The sudden pain that gripped my heart, welled up into my eyes and rolled down my cheeks.  And I will never forget what she said: “Les, don’t cry.  You know that we did not come here to stay.  The Lord has given me a good life.  He’s told me that it will be alright.  One day we will all meet in heaven, and then we will never part again.  And I will see you in the morning.”

That ‘s God’s word to you and me . Meet your Giants

at the intersection of courage and commitment.  Meet them with security and self-confidence.  And meet them after we have  the assurance that God is with us.  That’s where, how, and when we should meet our giants. 

A Christian’s Commitment

I am fortunate to have traveled around the world a number of times rendering service to God’s last-day Church.  I can say with all humility, I have had the privilege of preaching on every continent on the globe, with the exception of Antarctica.  One thing that always impresses me is the unmitigated faith of God’s children in societies far less prosperous than America.  Whether it is Bombay, India or Harare, Zimbabwe, whether in Inage, Nigeria or Georgetown, Guyana the faith commitment of God’s people always humbles me.  I mean, many of them have so little of this world’s goods, but are so rich in faith.  I have seen saints arise at 5:00 am, begin walking at 6:00 am in order to be in Sabbath School at 9:00.  Now that’s commitment.  I believe that people abroad can teach us volumes about wholehearted commitment to Jesus Christ.

Another young African Christian, upon finding Christ as his personal savior, penned the following words.  These words express his faith in ways that give most of us goose pimples.  Read it through once, then read it again every day for the next week.  Let’s sit at his feet as he revisits his experience with God.  I guarantee that his testimony will get your engines ready to go:

“I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed.  I have Holy Spirit power.  The die has been cast.  I have stepped over the line.  The decision has been made.  I am a disciple of His.  I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still.  My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure.  I’m finished and done with low living, small walking, small planning, smooth moves, colorless dreams, faint visions, mundane talking and dwarfed goals. 

“I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, products or popularity.  I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded.  I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, and am lifted by prayer.

“My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is long, my way is rough, my companions few, but my God is reliable, and my is mission clear.  I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed.  I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

“I won’t give up, shut up, let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up and preached for the cause of Christ,  I am a disciple of Jesus.  I must go to the cross and work until he stops me.

“And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me, because my banner will be clear.”

The Power of a Name
by: Valerie
The Castilleja School Palo Alto, CA
© 1999

I never really imagined that a name could have so much meaning. Walking along the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial I was faced with thousands of names belonging to thousands of people who had each given their lives for our country. I stood there, surrounded by spectators, all quiet in respect and honor, but the personal meaning didn’t reach any deeper than the engraved letters on the wall. To me they were just labels, not the true souls that they represented. I had never known the soldiers who had lost their lives; I hadn’t even been alive to experience the war.

I slowly made my way deeper into the list, passing flowers and small gifts left in remembrance. I saw a
wreath left by Boy Scout Troop #471, and a letter left by a little girl for her "grampa." For some reason it surprised me that people would come to the memorial to pay their respects to their loved ones. Wasn’t this just a place for tourists to come take pictures of a very historical monument? Besides, they were, after
all,just names. 

Soon I began to become tired of the repetitive carvings in stone. Row after row, it became harder and harder for me to imagine that each identity listed had a true character and personality. I began to walk on the less crowded side of the path that was farther away from the wall. After snapping a few pictures with my disposable camera, I thought I had experienced the essence of the memorial.

Then I saw something that made my heart fall silent and my feet freeze in their place. There, standing in front of Section 34 on the right half of the wall, was a woman. Her royal blue outfit and white gloves highlighted her dark chocolate skin, making her stand out from the crowd as it rushed past her. It was as if she were in a completely different world, surrounded by nothing except her thoughts. I watched as she reached her gentle hand up and lightly touched the wall in front of her. Slowly, she traced her fingers over the name "Frederick Holeburg.*" She stroked it with such softness and purity, it was as if she had never felt anything more precious in her life. Closing her eyes, she took a breath, and I could see her imagine him standing there in front of her. She didn’t move, as if afraid to lose her husband all over again Her breathing became so deep and relaxed, she seemed to be in a state of complete solitude. I tried not
to make any noise, even though I knew she wouldn’t notice. I didn’t want to disturb what seemed to be such a placid and tranquil moment.

By looking at the way she held her hand against the stone, I felt I could see back into the many years they spent in each other’s arms. I could see her smiling at him and touching his face; not just his name. I saw them taking long walks and falling more in love with each other every minute they were together. I could see him holding her hand as long as he could as he had to leave to go and fight in the war. I could see her sitting at home, barely being able to sit still, as she waited to hear news of him. I could see her crying when she found out he had died.

Then, as if she had suddenly awoken from her dream, a tear quickly ran down her cheek. She opened her eyes and looked at the name of the one who had meant more than anything else in the world to her. She  began to cry as she leaned her head against the wall. "I love you," she said. "I will always love you."

With that she stood up and wiped her eyes. She pressed her lips against her hand, making sure that her kiss would be felt, and then she touched her husband’s name one last time. Slowly her arm retreated down to her side, and after standing in peace for a minute, she reached into her purse and pulled something out.
She placed it on the ground, glanced at the wall once more, and slowly turned and walked away.

I moved closer towards Fred Holeburg’s name. Beneath me I saw a white rose with a maroon red bow tied around it. Next to it lay a white card with calligraphy writing. I leaned over to read what had been written;

"In honor of the best husband, chef, and friend I have ever met: I love you, Fred."

I smiled as a tear rolled down the side of my face. I never guessed that a complete stranger could have such an effect on me without even knowing. In those twenty minutes I learned more about life and about myself than I could have ever aspired to learn in months. I learned what it means to truly love someone. I
discovered that some people are cherished so much in life and death that the sight of their name can cause great emotion in those they have touched.

Fred Holeburg had made an impact that went deeper than the engraved letters of his name. Fred Holeburg affected the fate of his country; Fred Holeburg affected the soul of his wife; and unintentionally, Fred  Holeburg affected my heart. To me he was no longer just a name on the side of the wall. Even though I had never met him, I knew he was a hero, and that he deserved so much more recognition than he received, as did the other thousands of names that stood in front of me. Looking around, I no longer saw
thousands of words; I saw thousands of brothers, grandparents, husbands and sons. I saw inspiring people who each had been adored by their loved ones. Only then did I realize the essence of the Vietnam Memorial. It is not a name that needs to be remembered, it is a person.

I then quickly began frantically reading the names on the wall, trying not to miss one of the remarkable soldiers that undoubtedly deserved so much more than just a glance. I wanted to understand and learn about each man who had lost his life, but then I became aware of the amazing magnitude of the memorial.

As it was time to leave, I thought of the countless soldiers’ names that I did not even have time to read, let alone get to know. Even though I couldn’t get to know each soldier in the war, my eyes had been opened to a new world of perspective.

I walked away from the wall, the names growing smaller with every step I took. Finally they were no longer visible, and I said good-bye to the names I had read, and the heroes I had respected.

* Name used is fictional. Valerie is thirteen years old. She visited The Wall while on a class visit to
Washington D.C. She is an 8th grade student [1999] at The Castilleja School in Palo Alto, California.

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