The Respect I Protect

I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability.
It is he who commands the respect I protect...
This soldier will - in honored glory - rest under my eternal vigilance.

Last year in D.C., one of the most important sites I promised to show Loretta was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And while I described the scene to her prior to our arrival -- much like the case of this entry -- she'll tell you I didn't do it justice. If you're unfamiliar, the Tomb of the Unknown is a monument in dedication to the services of an unidentified soldier and to the common memories of all soldiers killed in any war. And it's guarded. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded by sentinels, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and under any weather condition. Sentinels -- all volunteers -- are considered to be the best of the elite 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment.

The amazing process is breathtaking to watch. He takes 21 steps, stops and pauses for 21 seconds, turns and marches another 21 steps. To and fro, back and forth with the utmost precision, and he doesn't stop his duty until another sentinel arrives to relieve him. The changing of the guard deserves an entry by itself. Unbelievable.

The tomb has been guarded with such reverence every second -- day and night -- since 1937. But what I find so motivating and thrilling is just exactly what they're protecting. And here begins the lesson.

Buried inside the Sentinel's Creed is a line that jumps off the page to me, and one I hope we can all apply to the body God gave us. It says, "I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability. It is he who commands the respect I protect...This soldier will - in honored glory - rest under my eternal vigilance."

Chills anyone? Maybe it's just sentimental me, but these men march day and night in humble dedication and service, not to protect the marble tomb or the manicured lawn. No, they're protecting respect. (Read that sentence again, slowly.) What does it mean to protect respect? And can anyone reading this sentence apply that to the duty you and I have about our health? It's something, isn't it? They've dedicated a life of allegiance because of every soldier who's ever filled a tomb. We've committed our lives because of an empty one. And in humble reverence, it is He who commands the respect we protect.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: The scene is dripping with so much symbolism, I can't quite type. Of course it's not about aesthetics, but when we consider our lives -- our impact on others, our personal calling, our ability to share Christ -- it's an awesome reminder that our health is significant to the Kingdom. Our temporary diligence has eternal consequences. As I type, I can't think straight. Friends, all I hope is that my effort in caring for a frail body -- one that's built to ultimately fail -- is a worthy salute; one that humbly says this soul is guarded.

photo credit: John Michael Photography

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