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Bettering Others and the World You Live In

Unfinished Stories

Unfinished Stories

Memorial Day should be a time to reflect on unfinished stories. It is an opportunity to wrestle with the sobering thought that so many individual stories were cut way too short, so that ours can reach final publication.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said that, “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” That quote embodies the spirit of Memorial Day, a day in which we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

A Short Story

A few years ago, I went on an Ancestry.com binge. I spent several consecutive days and nights over a Christmas holiday tracing my ancestry. Through that process, the family tree produced a cousin to my Great Grandfather named Galen Winston Albright.

Here is what limited information the research produced. Seaman First Class Albright was born on January 3, 1922 in Beaver Township, Indiana, he went to Brook High School, and he enlisted in the U.S. Navy on October 6, 1940 at the age of 18. His story ends, unfinished, on December 7, 1941 in Honolulu, Hawaii aboard the USS Arizona.

According to www.ussarizona.org, his disposition is listed as, “unrecoverable.” He was one of more than 2,400 who lost their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbor.  I will likely never know any more about him than this.

A Willingness

I did come across one other source of information, a newspaper article from the Lafeyette Journal that was entitled, High on Heroes’ Honor Roll. It showed a picture of he and a friend who enlisted at the same time and died with him at Pearl Harbor.

The clipping mentions that that he left high school early to join the Navy. I have always stood in awe of the Greatest Generation, kids willingly leaving school early to go fight in one of the most pivotal wars in human history.  They knew the risks, they did it anyways.   

The Bible says in John 15:13 (ESV), “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

A great differentiator between those who made the ultimate sacrifice and those who are still able to finish writing their stories in a free world was their willingness. Everyone has the ABILITY to lay their life down for someone else, but only these brave souls had the WILLINGNESS.

Finish Their Stories

The further I got into writing this post, the more I thought about the title.  To call Galen Albright’s and so many others’ stories, unfinished, sells their sacrifice short.  While their stories ended far too soon, their short story allowed so many of us the opportunity to finish ours.  Their stories have spurred millions of other stories through the freedoms their sacrifice has produced and will continue to produce.    

President John F. Kennedy once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” Gratitude is the greatest way to honor one’s ultimate sacrifice.  The way in which we lead our lives is a daily opportunity to express that gratitude.  Failing to live our lives fully, dishonors that sacrifice. 

General George S. Patton said“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived.”  Gratitude celebrates their unfinished story…it is the least we can do.  Finish their story well. 


I would challenge you to take the opportunity to pause, honor, and reflect on every Memorial Day.  Remember that Some Gave All and because of their sacrificial unfinished stories, we can continue to tell ours. 

There is no greater leadership than sacrificial leadership.  Would You Give Your Life for Others?   Today, tomorrow, and into the future, be worthy of their sacrifice.      

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