An Open Letter to My Uncles

mason_boysAs your Nephew, I watched you from a distance over the course of my early life. Through those eyes, I watched each of you come back from Vietnam. I remember how proud I felt of my Uncle Cecil, whenever I would look up at his double exposure picture hanging in my Granny’s house. I asked one time why the pictures for my Uncles were photographed this way and my Granny simply said with a tear in her eye, “It is in case they don’t come back, honey.” I had not thought of my Uncles not coming back. I knew what it meant for my dad to leave and not come back, I knew what it meant for my mom to share custody of me with my Grandparents and her barely being around from age 3-8 (I could not understand the need to financially provide for us after our family trauma), but I had never considered what it would be like if you my Uncles did not come back.

With all three of you, your reputation for combat survival preceded you. Even though I did not receive Christ until I was 18 years old, I remember asking Robert about Vietnam or “the Nam” as he called it. He swore, the only reason he survived was because Granny was a praying lady. He said, “She prayed your Pawpaw through WWII and she prayed for all us boys through Vietnam.”

You guys would come over to Granny’s house and go out in the neighbor’s yard to play horse shoes, smoke cigarettes, and drink beer. I remember thinking, “when I grow up I am going to be in the Army, play horse shoes, smoke cigarettes, and drink beer.” Then you guys would leave and Granny would start up talking and praying all at the same time. She would do this as she cleaned the house. Granny’s house was always clean except for the excessive smell of cigarette smoke. She fretted over your choices, your life style, the people in your life and one by one as kids came along she prayed for them by name. I learned Uncle Robert was right, Granny was a praying woman.

The only one of you guys I ever saw in uniform was Uncle Ronnie. You were still on Active Duty when Cecil retired and Robert was honorably discharged not long after his service obligation was up. This is when I heard the term Sergeant for the first time and I remember thinking, “I want to be a Sergeant one day.”

After 1978, life became confusing for me and a life a traveling ensued. All my contact with you guys was by phone and updates from my mom from time to time. She would just repeat the things Granny would tell her over the phone which was the same stuff she fretted (prayed) over before. Even though I wasn’t around you guys then, I understood the context and knew Granny was still praying for you all and I also knew that meant she was praying for me.

soldiers-pray-with-army-chaplain-vietnamI read some interesting statistics about you guys earlier today: Less than 850,000 of the nearly 3 million American citizens that served in Vietnam are still alive today. You all are dying at a rate of 390 per day. However, not all is bad news: I also read that 97% of you were honorably discharged, 91% of you were glad you served, 87% of Americans today hold you in high esteem and better than 85% of made successful transitions to civilian life (source: www.us.wings.com). When I think of these statistics today, I can’t help but think that the majority of those who deployed back then had praying moms.

Recently, I started taking up where Granny left off. I find myself praying for all three of you and all my cousins. I may never know what difference my prayers have made but I have it on good authority that prayer works. I resolve to continue to pray for each of you by name. I also think about Granny. We all know she was a godly woman and there is no doubt in all of our minds that she is up in heaven helping God get rid of the cob webs Satan left behind. Granny is most likely ironing all those white robes and making some heavenly food for the Angels.

Along with the praying, I have to say, I find myself fretting just like Granny did. I fret over where you are in your relationship with God and if He is a central part of your life today. I wonder what it would look like for you all to be sold out for Christ like Granny was? So here is the prayer I have been praying for you, your families and your children:

“Father God,

I pray you replace the horrors of wars gone by with the glory of a meaningful relationships and a meaningful walk with you. I ask that you search them out. Oh God, know their heart, try them and know their thoughts. See if there are any wicked ways in them and lead them in your way everlasting. Place Christian people in their path both at work and at play. May your Holy Spirit continue to draw each of them unto you. Finally Father, give them a joy and peace that passes all understanding and let be so obvious that others praise You for the changes they see in my Uncles and their families. In Jesus name, Amen!”

I want to personally thank each of you for serving this great country of ours and I ask that in the same way you have served the United States well that you finish well in your service to God.

 

With Love, from your favorite Nephew

CH (MAJ) Mijikai Mason, prior Enlisted E-6

Hebrews 13:7-8

Mijikai Mason
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Mijikai Mason and in no way are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Bio: Mijikai Mason is an Ordained Southern Baptist minister and Chaplain in the United States Army. He has been in the Army for 26 years both as an enlisted Soldier and now as an Officer. He has been stationed at various bases in the United States and in United States Army Garrison Schweinfurt, Germany. He holds an undergraduate degree in Religion from the University of Mobile, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Theology and Evangelism and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Webster University. Chaplain (MAJ) Mijikai Mason was selected by the Army in 2013, to become a Family Life Chaplain and began his service in this field starting 15 May 2015. He is the Deputy ESC Chaplain and Family Life Chaplain for the 593 Expeditionary Support Command at Joint Base Lewis McCord. He has deployed four times: Desert Storm (1991), Iraq twice (2005-2006; 2007-2008), and Afghanistan (2012-2013). He has a total of 42 months deployed in combat and logistics operations. Mijikai and his wife, Ashley, have been married for 17 years this May and live near Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington with their four daughters.