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Four Years at the Mount

Freshman year

The Greatest Gift

Leeanne Leary
Class of 2017

(12/2013) Time: the greatest gift one can give or receive. Time is a gift that may be underappreciated at times, but in the end, all anyone really wants is more time. Time with family or friends, time to relax, and time to have fun. Similarly, as it is our greatest desire, time is also the greatest gift we have to give.

In my church’s youth group, each week we had a new topic always relating to time, talents, or treasures in connection with service. We were taught from day one that even if we have all the unique talents and valuable treasures in the world, they mean nothing if we do not give our invaluable time to share them. This time seems to gain value around the holidays as we try to take as much time off from work to spend as much time as we can celebrating with family. Sometimes people are too busy giving elsewhere that they don’t have these same opportunities. These selfless men and women, willing to give everything protecting our freedom and that of others by serving our country, are our soldiers.

This month I went to the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers football game at MetLife stadium in New Jersey, and it just so happened to be Military Appreciation Day. The entire game was geared towards honoring veterans and active members of the armed forces, but the most touching part was during a media timeout early in the second quarter. As the players stood on the field to watch, a wife and daughter stood at the entrance to a corner tunnel and waved to the stands as they were recognized as the family of an active soldier currently deployed. Their soldier was not set to return to the United States for several months, and everyone in the stadium cheered as they recognized the sacrifices that the mother and daughter were making here at home.

Then, instantly the audience and players erupted into cheers and applause that could be heard for miles. The mother and daughter looked around, oblivious to the man who had just stepped out of the other tunnel in his army greens and was now running towards them. They remained confused as the announcer said, "And now if you’ll look to your right, an early Christmas present from the New York Giants!"

The reunion that took place on the field, magnified on the screens around us, was enough to bring everyone to tears. Here was a man prepared to give the ultimate gift of time, who had already given more than most could even imagine, crying as he embraced his family. The recognition of his sacrifice rang true throughout the entire stadium.

Too many are away for the holidays. Too many miss their children’s birthdays, Christmas morning, anniversaries, and weddings. Too many miss so much as they give all they have to give, sharing their greatest gift – time – with others.

In 2003, Sergeant Ristaino, a full-time army recruiter and member of St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis, began to work for those who so willingly shared themselves with all. Ristaino’s inspiration came when he was watching his 12 children make mission rosaries for their Junior Legion of Mary group. Knowing these rosaries would not be strong enough for combat, he designed the Ranger Rosary made with parachute cord, dark beads, and no metal parts for safety.

Soon after, other home-schooled families began to help make the rosaries. The word passed from one chaplain to another: "Free combat rosaries are available from St. Mary’s of Annapolis, Maryland." Military in war-torn areas are especially thankful for the strength and protection these holy rosaries bring. Groups who prayed the rosaries started to form, especially on the front lines. Those rosaries became a simple sign of the time and effort that we are willing to give to the brave men and women giving each and every second that they have.

A remarkable blessing took place in Afghanistan this past year when a young Marine, a recent graduate of the Naval Academy, was stationed as an officer at a frontline base. His convoy came under heavy fire in an ambush attack, and the first tank exploded in flames. His best friend was in that tank while he was in the third one. Because of the continued assault, he was unable to reach the engulfed tank until the Air Force was called in to quell the fighting. When he was finally able to race to the first tank, he was amazed to see the entire crew climb out of the burning vehicle without any burns or other injuries. These warriors emerging unscathed were the same men who had prayed the rosary together every night at camp. When asked later, they credited the miracle that had happened to that simple act.

Hundreds of thousands of combat rosaries have been made and sent to soldiers of every denomination, but the nonprofit, donation-based organization cannot function without your help. Give your gift of time and resources, so our brave soldiers can continue to feel loved and connected as they give their greatest gift.

Funds are necessary to purchase the rosary making material. Ranger Rosary is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, all-volunteer charity that relies solely on private donations. Without generous donors like you, they would not be able to continue this holy ministry. Contact or call 410-990-4100 ext. 4714 for more information.

Give the greatest gift you can this season, and support the people giving everything they can. After all, it’s their time that makes a difference.

Read other articles by Leeanne Leary