This post was originally posted on my Political Pistachio
Blog, but I felt it belonged here as well. God Bless our Veterans.
As Memorial Day approaches, I think back about the friends I lost to The Persian Gulf War. I am medically retired from the United States Navy, but was discharged before I had the opportunity to defend my nation, and American interests abroad. As I began a new career in the civilian world, my old friends departed for the Gulf. Later, when I bumped into a couple of old buddies at the USO and at Veteran's Affairs in San Diego, I learned of my fallen buddies. One of them was a Navy Corpsman that was out in the field with the United States Marines. It was tough news to digest, but knowing that they died defending with honor, and defending with pride, it brought tears to my eyes. This morning, at church, more tears came to my eyes. A retired U.S. Army Chaplain, Pastor Tom Russell, is on staff at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California where I attend. He came out and said a prayer for our fallen heroes. I don't remember all that he said, but I felt proud for those men in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am proud to enjoy freedoms that I was willing to lay down my life for, and freedoms that many of my friends did lay their lives down for.In the morning Church Bulletin a quote from Pastor Tom Russell was printed above the image of an American Flag. It was titled, "Worth the Cost?" I read it, and again my emotions overtook me. Patriotic Pride, for me, is not just an emotion, but a deep belief that as an American it is our duty to continue to provide the liberty our forefathers provided for us, and to do it with a National Pride that only another proud American can understand. I hope Pastor Russell doesn't mind, but below is what he said in the bulletin. Read it with pride, and pray for the fallen - for they fell with honor - and are appreciated by us Americans that are unable to be by their sides for whatever reason.Before retiring recently, I made a next-of-kin (NOK) notification to the family of a young soldier killed in Iraq. While every NOK notification is different, and even though I've done many before, this one was most tragic. The father reacted very angrily and violently, cursing and swearing, and repeatedly shouting: "Was it worth it!" He was bitterly opposed to the war, and I'm certain without Christ in his life. Though I wanted to assure him that the death of his son was indeed "worth it," it was quickly obvious that to him it never could be. As our nation celebrates another Memorial Day, I hope and pray that more Americans than not will believe that our temporal freedoms are indeed worth the personal cost. As Christians, may our lives always reflect the absolute worth of the sacrifice of God's only Son. Our mandate is clear: " 'My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.' " (John 15:12-14 NIV) - by Pastor Tom Russell, Chaplain (Major) U.S. ARMY RETIRED.You are all my friends, and for the love of my friends, and America the Beautiful, if I could, I would return to the military in a heartbeat to defend my nation again. God bless.