It is no surprise that most people go to their grave wondering if they made a difference, if they contributed, if they mattered.
Last week on Veteran’s Day, we celebrated a group who don’t have to ask that question. Their contributions are immeasurable, for their fight for FREEDOM –the freedom for which they sacrificed–IS NEVER FREE. It comes at a great price, the price these heroes paid.
Father Dennis Edward O’Brien, USMC, understood their importance. It was he who wrote the following: “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 organizer, who gave us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, and who allows the protestor to burn the flag.”
The t-shirt worn by the man in the picture above is the same one we bought for our son, Adam’s, birthday this month. We were celebrating alongside the Afghanistan family who moved to Fort Scott last week.
Even they were touched by the shirt, for they knew first-hand about the sacrifices made over the past 20 years in an attempt to bring freedom to their country.
I am in a bi-weekly Bible study Zoom call with a group of Vietnam vets and their wives. In our last meeting, one of the ex-soldiers shared about the memorial services he and his wife are organizing for the families of Vietnam vets who never had a proper burial. We all listened in awe as he revealed the impact these services were having on loved ones.
Dale, the army veteran who leads us, spoke of Stan, the Vietnam soldier with whom this Zoom group platooned and who wrote of his experience in that war.
Helicopters dropped his group of U.S. soldiers off in a jungle, not knowing it was a bunker complex set up by the North Vietnamese. A round of bullets rang out. The first shot hit Stan’s chin. On the second stream, Stan felt a hot flash and was knocked on his back. He couldn’t find his M-16 machine gun but saw the men on both sides of him were dead. His right knee was shot out and his lung punctured. His arm was hanging by the skin at the top of his shoulder, most of the bone missing. Stan scooted on his back to try and find cover. A fellow soldier grabbed him under the armpits and dragged him to a nearby medic.
After surgery and I.C.U., he was told that shrapnel had taken half of his liver. The soldier’s personal belongings—including his New Testament Bible—were brought to his hospital bed. The second bullet had penetrated his pocket-sized Bible which he carried in his jacket pocket. Its tip was lodged at 2 Corinthians 5:7: For we walk by faith, not by sight. That Bible had saved his life…literally.
Today, Groveport Heritage Museum displays that Bible. Look at that t-shirt again. We never will know the hidden stories of what our military men and women went through to protect us.
Let’s make it a habit to show our appreciation…not just on Veteran’s Day but every day.
One thought on “A Lifetime of Appreciation by Patty LaRoche”
I appreciate your article. Let’s support all our soldiers and fight for those who do not want to be vaccinated against COVID. The mandates are wrong and we need to let our legislators know.