This is the eulogy shared by Benjamin’s youngest brother Nathan at his service in August:
I was torn with the task of delivering these remarks because of the emotional nature of the events of this week. I found out that Ben had put in his wishes that I give a eulogy for him and so I couldn’t say no. I usually didn’t say no to Ben whenever he asked for anything so why start now.
My brother Micah would have been a much better pic to orate this eulogy, but then I realized we would be here all day, so that wasn’t going to work. Ben wouldn’t want this to be a weepy and sad listing of life accomplishments, he would want it to be bigger than that. Ben lived a BIG life!
As I’ve spent time this week reflecting on his life (As most of you here in this room have done as well), I’ve realized just how much he has influenced and affected all our lives in so many different and unique ways. I’m sure everyone present today could get up here and share stories and memories for hours and not exhaust all of the amazing ways he touched our lives.
As I put these thoughts together, I want what I say to capture the essence of who Ben was and bring honor to the life that he lived. I’m not going to accomplish summarizing his life in just a few minutes here, but I want to focus on two big picture ideas that defined his life. These are characteristics that each of us would be wise to walk in as well.
- The first idea is this: Whatever you do, do it with all your heart. Ben was a man of commitment. I remember as kids, he would talk about one day wanting to parachute behind enemy lines and run counter-intelligence ops.
All dreams have humble beginnings, right? It wasn’t too long before he bought a pair of walkie talkies and checked out library books about military strategy. Within a couple of hours, the two of us successfully completed our first counter-intelligence mission of listening in on a couple of unsuspecting brothers and their plans for the day…
Ben approached learning with this same attitude, do it with all your heart. He never stopped seeking knowledge and always wanted to find out what he didn’t know. In his mind, he was a learn it all, not a know it all. However, given the opportunity to debate a topic…any topic, he was game. In these conversations, he would give the impression that he knew the topic in its entirety, but I think secretively, he was gathering information that he didn’t already know and would process that and give it thoughtful consideration…just not in front of you. Ben learned with all of his heart
He was fully committed in his service to our great country (as so many of these distinguished solders are here today, and many of you in the audience are and have been). When leaving for different deployments or missions, I remember so clearly looking at him and seeing someone who wasn’t trying to avoid danger or just get by, but I saw the embodiment of courage, honor and love of country. He believed that what he was doing made a difference. And as I remember those moments past, there was never an ounce of arrogance or self-promotion. It was just his job and that’s all. Ben served with all of his heart
I think something all of us have witnessed was Ben’s full commitment and devotion to his wife and kids. Trish, it was undeniable that his relationship with you was his greatest joy. As I watched your relationship grow in the beginning and then through the years of marriage, I saw incredible changes in Ben that I didn’t think were actually possible. Trish could give him that look and with her sweet southern voice say “Benjamin James”… and he would knock it off! All the years of us trying to get him to knock it off and she could do it with just his name. Honestly, I think he liked feeling like he was in trouble, maybe it reminded him of his ENTIRE childhood.
The power that this woman processes. Incredible! Through it all, Ben loved his wife and kids with all his heart. And Trish, I would be missing a huge piece if I didn’t acknowledge your commitment to him. I want to publicly honor you as Ben’s unwavering, steadfast, and loving wife. Your example of biblical love and dedication to your husband is something I have been so blessed to witness firsthand. You loved your husband with all your heart, and Ben love you with all of his.
Whatever you do, do it with all your heart.
The second big idea that Ben embodied was laughter is the best. The saying is laughter is the best medicine, but Ben didn’t think if it as just medicine, it was his life. According to Ben:
Laughter is the best way to start the day
Laughter is the best way to break the ice with complete strangers
Laughter is the best way to make mom ask “did you pick that up in the military?”
Laughter is the best way to make Trish’s face turn red
Laughter is the best way to live your life
Ben loved to laugh. He was usually armed with a new joke or story that even made him laugh, and you know, his laughing would make you laugh. Because as he would say a joke, he was hearing it for the first time too, so it was legit funny to him as well. Even in these final weeks, I would notice how he still had his smile and his laugh. Nothing could take that from him.
One thing that always made me laugh was Ben’s music choices. If any of you had ever rode with Ben in his truck, you quickly found out his intense love for such a wide, unconnected variety of music. Anything ranging from classic big hair 80’s rock and Sweedish metal bands to classic 90’s country and current pop songs. It was all over the place, but he was happy to DJ for the entire duration of the car ride. Music was life giving to Ben-
Ben had an amazing way of not taking things too seriously. I think all of us have something to learn from that. It’s not that he couldn’t be serious or give concern where it was warranted, he just had a way of keeping perspective of things. I think he compared them to his life experiences and things that he had been through. I remember him quoting a line out of the movie Braveheart (well, several, but I won’t mention those in this setting). But the one I remember is the most is “everyman dies, not every man really lives” (William Wallace)
He wasn’t controlled by fear. He knew how big his God was compared to the size of the obstacle he was facing. His life reminds me of Psalm 16:8-9 that says
“I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure”
Ben was secure in the Lord
His heart was made glad in his Creator
His eyes were set on His God
Ben could laugh because he knew who held his tomorrow. And now he is with the one who holds our tomorrow. And I praise God for His faithfulness until the end!
One way each of us can honor Ben’s life today is to go do whatever you do with all your heart and remember to compare your obstacles with how big your God is…you might just find it laughable. God is so Good