Given that this is the Veteran’s Day weekend, I wanted to post something in honor of our veterans, many of whom I have served with but many whom I will never even meet.  It’s a wonderful idea to recognize our veterans at least once a year, although they typically get notice on July 4th and Memorial Day.  Military service cannot be commended or honored enough.  As we know from our Bible and from our glorious Savior’s sacrifice, as well as His own words, Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  Jesus, Himself, made such a sacrifice, and He made the greatest sacrifice by laying down His life for people that were even His enemies, not just His friends.  It is this tradition of sacrifice that is at the foundation of military service.  As veterans serve, they often think of family and friends for whom we are defending our national values, principles, and way of life.  But they also serve for strangers whom they will never meet, who may not even be aware of the sacrifice made on their behalf, but who nonetheless still enjoy our unprecedented freedoms and rights.

So many of our troops give all they have.  They give their lives in some cases.  But others continue to give long after they have served due to life-changing injuries or mental/emotional issues such as PTSD or TBI that last for many decades after their initial service. Many of them live in parts of the country where military service is not looked upon so favorably or is misunderstood due to the culture there. I am reminded of many of our veterans who served during a time in which the military was not honored. I can't imagine the pain that many of our Vietnam era veterans faced after the horrendous jungle or urban warfare they experienced, only to come home expecting relief but finding instead communities where their honorable service was denigrated to the point of public ridicule in many instances. I would imagine it is almost like returning from the front only to find that the barbarians had overrun your homeland. Our Vietnam-era brothers were victims of a misguided culture with supposedly well-meaning young people who thought that the best expression of their socialistic, free-love world-view would be to cause pain to another human being that did not fit into their mold of what people should be like. Surely Satan is behind such absurd behavior.  But I’m certain that God will not forget the tremendous sacrifices of our brave men and women that go on for years and decades later.  Surely no man or woman has greater love than this, except our Savior.

But I am thankful for living in a time in which people recognize and appreciate military service. Moreover, God has brought me so much healing from my own pains, but I still worry about the younger troops especially, who may return to communities that simply don't understand their suffering or the dysfunctional behaviors that may come out of their suffering. A lot of them end up in courts, hospitals, or substance treatment centers, and many times people look at them without compassion, wondering why they can't fix themselves. War is the ultimate expression of evil, the concentrated infliction of violence upon another human being that you don't even know in the most wickedly creative ways. Unfortunately, it is a necessary evil in an evil world in order to set power against those who have evil intent. Everybody is different, so the impact of this service varies. Some deal with their combat experiences more successfully if they have a good family support system and a healthy world-view centered around God. Moreover, if they believe in God, they can tap into real power that changes their lives and can turn the traumatic experience into victory as He has done in my life.

But we can never forget how important the service of all of our troops is. I like the quote which I've heard so often, "Some gave all, but all gave some." I am proud of all our troops past and present that I've served with and many that I will never even meet.  There are so many wonderfully brave and unselfish men and women that have served. They considered their country important enough to lay down their lives if it ever came to that, though not all of us are called to give that ultimate sacrifice, but I believe they all deserve credit for living lives of honorable sacrifice being willing to risk everything up to and including their life. I know I speak for all of them in saying that it truly is a sacrifice. It's hard for common Americans to understand the level of sacrifice unless they have been there or know someone who can adequately relate what service was like:  the constant danger for wartime troops; the  multiple deployments for many; the number of freedoms and comforts that are given up in wartime and peacetime; the hard, desolate posts of duty away from family; the surrender of cherished family time even on holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, deaths and births; the long, hard hours of constant work; and even the pain that they go through in training, the many schools that push the limits of human endurance; all of this so that they will be ready at a moment’s notice to defend their country, its cherished values, and its wonderful people. We live in a great nation that is unparalleled in history in its achievements and its commitment to higher values. True, we have not always lived up to those values, but it is a testament to such values that we have weathered so many storms. And there are so many incredible stories of common Americans who have risen up to bring technological or cultural advancements, to set wrongs right, to combat evil in its various forms that arise in society or the world, or simply to demand that we live up to our values and grant the God-given rights to everyone as promised in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. We have a remarkable country that is truly worth fighting for, worth suffering for, and worth dying for.

 


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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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