I’ve been reading the memoirs of some of the men who served in World War II as part of Easy Co. of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army. I’ve been fascinated by these men’s stories and they are told so well. But this goes beyond just a good story. My grandfather fought in World War II as a member of the U.S. Army’s 1st Division (the “Big Red One”). I never really got to talk much to my grandfather and never about the war. He’s been dead for over 20 years now. But these memoirs of Easy Co. soldiers helps me understand what my grandfather lived through.
These men went to war because their country needed them. Easy Co. men were all volunteers. Many men were drafted in World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam. But that doesn’t make them any less honorable. Whether draftees or volunteers, these men went to war because they loved their country. They believed in the ideals of the United States of America, in her promise, in her future.
But when they were “boots down” in the theaters of war, love of country only takes you so far.
They fought heroically not for love of country but for love of their brothers in arms. Winning a war wasn’t the day-to-day priority, survival was the number one goal. Getting themselves and their buddies, their brothers, through the day alive.
I will never understand this as they do. I had my chance to serve in the Unite States Military and passed it up to go into full-time church work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not embarrassed by that. We all serve where we are best suited. I truly believe that. God puts us exactly where we need to be and where we are needed to be. I’m sure I could be of better use writing and speaking and teaching then I could ever be firing a rifle (I’m a lousy shot – I couldn’t hit a bullet with the broad side of a barn).
But while I’m not embarrassed for never having served in the military, I deeply and greatly admire those men and women who have. They will never admit it and will fight me for saying it, but they are heroes to me.
Heroes don’t do heroic things, as such, they simply do the job that needs to be done with more regard for others than for themselves.
And that’s exactly what Jesus Christ did, isn’t it? He’s the Son of God, through whom God the Father created the entire universe. Still, Jesus gave it all up to become a human being. He lived His whole life for others. Never a thought for His needs, His comforts. His desire was for others, not for Himself.
Jesus is the ultimate brother in a band of brothers. He gives up, sacrifices, everything for His brothers and sisters. And in doing that, He wins the war. He defeats, completely, the enemy. His victory brings us peace and eternal life.
What will we do with what Jesus won for us?
That’s a question I’ve been asking myself about the sacrifice of our nation’s heroes. They served, fought, bled and many died to give me freedom. Freedom to vote – and so I will. Freedom to worship – and so I will. Freedom to speak – and so I will.
By their sacrifice, I’ve been given so much. And so I will give back the best ways I know how and in the best ways I’ve been gifted.
Jesus gave me freedom from sin, death, and the power of the devil. I will use that freedom to share this good news with others – and if necessary, I’ll use words!
What will you do?
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