Dear friends and family,
November 11, Veteran’s Day, is a holiday that many may see as a midweek break from work – frankly last week I was thinking the same thing.
But, as God often does, I was reminded there is more to His days than a day off. I was reminded of the significance of this day by the death of another friend and pilot from my squadron this past Monday afternoon. In April this year I experienced this kind of loss for the first time when a friend from my training classes over the previous year and a half was killed flying F-16’s. Shortly before, another young officer gave his life during a training flight over the Pacific Ocean. And yet another F-16 pilot died after receiving serious burn injuries during an aborted takeoff in Japan. There are more….many more….from this year alone. So this year, Veteran’s Day has taken on a new meaning in my life. This year, the veteran and his sacrifice mean a little more to me.
Daddy, What is a Vet?
“Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in their eyes. Others carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg – or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul’s alloy forged in the refinery of adversity. Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You can’t tell a vet just by looking.
“What is a vet?
“He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn’t run out of fuel.
“He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundered times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery in the skies near the 38th parallel.
“She or he is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.
“He is the POW who went away one person and came back another – or didn’t come back at all.
“He is the Quantico drill instructor who has never seen combat – but has saved countless lives by turning slouch, no account kids and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other’s backs.
“He is the parade – riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.
“He is the career quartermaster who watched the ribbons and medals pass him by.
“He is any of the anonymous heroes in The Tomb of the Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean’s sunless deep.
“He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket – palsied now and aggravatingly slow – who helped liberate a Naxi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.
“He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being – a person who offered some of his life’s most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.
“He is a soldier and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the people in the finest, greatest nation ever known.
“So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say ‘Thank You.’ That’s all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.
“It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
“It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
“It is the soldier, not the college campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
“It is the soldier… who salutes the flag… who serves beneath the flag… and whose coffin is draped by the flag… who allows the protestor to burn the flag.”
-Denis Edward O’Brien, USMC
A wife and two young boys are without their husband and father today. Maybe they had plans to go sledding in the Utah hills today on their day off. Maybe they were going to a Veteran’s Day ceremony at the air museum. Maybe they were simply going to enjoy a quiet day under the blanket of freedom provided by those who have gone before. But today, they will cry a little. Today, they will remember a lot.
And today, they and I are thankful. Thankful to God for His precious gifts. The gift of freedom in this country to worship freely, without fear, our Lord and Creator. The gift of His son Jesus Christ who hears those who call on Him to be their personal savior and who loves them infinitely.
Our fallen friend would tell you were he here, for he told me, that Jesus is alive! That the God of the Bible is who He says He is! That His will, and yes, His timing are perfect… though we may not understand. He would tell us to trust in Him.
In the Bible the apostle Paul tells us, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” This husband, father, friend, and veteran is with Christ today in Heaven. He would want you to know how awesome it is. How glorious it is to be in God’s presence. And to let you know you can come too… if you ask Jesus into your heart as your Lord and Savior.
Today, I simply ask you to pray for his family, that God may continue to strengthen them… for He is our rock and our salvation. I ask you to think on the many blessings we have been given… and thank God for them… for He has given us them all. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or think.