Father Eugene Hemrick

The time the cyclists made riding day and night was astonishing, but so was the determination of the wounded troops with missing limbs and legs who propelled themselves and finished the grueling course.

In five days, a group supporting the Wounded Warrior Project bicycled from California to Annapolis, Md., in honor of the wounded men and women troops who risked life and limbs for our security. Some of the riders included wounded troops.

The organization says the ride is “a unique four-day cycling opportunity for wounded warriors to use cycling and the bonds of service to overcome physical, mental or emotional wounds.”

The Wounded Warrior Project “provides programs and services to severely injured service members during the time between active duty and transition to civilian life.”

This remarkable event honoring these men and women must not be considered a one-time happening but repeated often. That’s because life is fickle and always changing. One look at the news confirms how true this is. An unforgettable tragedy one day is easily forgotten the next. We live in an age of short-term memory, even though it’s true there are some things we would rather forget.

Cycling across the U.S. to honor wounded warriors is more than an awesome feat aimed at supporting them. It is a cry for faithful and unending camaraderie.

Those of us who have ever been down and out know the power companionship possesses in overcoming the worst of circumstances. I believe it is true to say that the greatest pain in life is not physical or mental, but the feeling of being alone, abandoned or forgotten. Camaraderie means saying, “I care for you, I am here for you, I am one with you and I will never leave you!”

In the Bible, God tells us it is not good to be alone. The first lesson of creation is that we are social beings, we are meant to not only to be with one another but to be intertwined.

We have only to think about those troops who carried cherished pictures of their wives and husbands and their children to learn how true this is. The pictures were more than photographs. They possessed the precious spirit of oneness. Even though a beloved was miles away, they resided in the heart, strengthening and enabling it to withstand the trauma of the moment.

Wars destroy lives and limbs and minds. Dedication to wounded warriors counters this by encouraging us to unite our minds with theirs and to make them a part of us. More than just keeping their sacrifices alive in our memory, it is a loving embrace of comfort and strength.