Galatians 6:14

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Salute to Our Veterans

Happy (late) Veterans Day!!!!

Thanks to all of our men and women who have fought for the freedom of this nation, sad to say, a freedom we have taken for granted. 
 May God bless you!

I also want to say, I am PROUD to be an American!

Today we have a special treat, a guest blogger! Miss Kay Maynard. She has written a lovely ode to our veterans.

Here is Kay:

"I remember very well the day that my Dad came rushing home from the Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary and told my Mom that there had been a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.  I was too young to understand just exactly what had happened, but I knew it was a bad thing because Mom was crying and she usually doesn’t do that in front of us unless something really sad or bad has happened.  I went over to Daddy and asked him what the matter was.  He said, “There’s been an attack on the World Trade Center,” looking off into the distance and not really paying any attention to me.
       “What’s a terrorist?” I asked.
       He came back to earth suddenly. “Terrorists are bad people who want to harm civilians and get control of them that way,” he said in words that my six year old mind could understand.
       “And what did the terrorists do?” I asked.
       “They crashed an airplane into the World Trade Center. They were the tallest towers in the world, Kay, and thousands of people worked there. The towers exploded and many people died. All over America, people are in shock right now. They lost many of their friends and relatives.”
       I was appalled and sat down hard on the floor. Dad caught my arm and pulled me back up. “Why would anybody do that?” I asked.
       Dad is usually so strong, but I saw tears in his eyes as he said, “Because of sin.  People that don’t know Jesus have nothing to live for, so they try to get attention in the wrong ways. There are lots of bad people in the world. These terrorists, these bad people, they wanted to take away our freedom. It’s because we are the freest country in the whole world.” He removed his glasses and put a hand over his eyes. “You’re privileged to be growing up here, Kay.” He set the glasses down on his blue jeaned knee before drawing me to him. “Listen, Kay. Because Jesus loves you and He lives in your heart, you have all the freedom you are ever going to need right there. Even if these terrorists invade our country and take away our freedom, you will always be free in Jesus.” He gave me a hug.
       Later that week, Mom and Dad were talking in the kitchen about President Bush sending the troops into Iraq to find the people that had planned the attack. They kept using the word “soldier.” I didn’t know what that meant until Daddy explained it to me.  If we hadn’t been in such terrible shock and circumstances, you would have laughed out loud at the conversation that went between me and my Dad, something like this:
       “Daddy, what does that mean?”

        “What does what mean?”
       “That word. You keep using it. Sol-jer?”
       “Oh. Soldier. You really don’t know what a soldier is?”
       “Well, do you know how when we are at Meijers sometimes we see men in camouflage--”
       “What’s that?”
       “Camouflage?” Dad looked flustered. “Oh, it’s a pattern that makes you look like a tree in the woods, You wear it on your clothes and you can blend in.”
       “Camouflage.” I tried the word on for size as Dad went on.
       “Well anyway, you know how we see men wearing camouflage walking around in stores sometimes? They are soldiers. Soldiers are the people that go to war for us. They fight so we can have freedom.” I nodded, remembering the meaning of the word freedom. Dad and I had discussed this in school just weeks before. “They keep our country safe from bad people like the terrorists. They keep America safe so we can say what we want to, go wherever we want, not be persecuted because of our religion…”
       “Those are some pretty big words. Per-suh- cuted? Religion? What do they mean?”
       Dad looked red faced. “Forget it. But you know what a soldier is now, right?”
       I nodded.
       “And because they pay the price of freedom, do you know what we do? Whenever we see a soldier, we go up to him and thank him for his service.”
       I nodded and broke into a big smile.
       A few months after this, in about mid March, Dad, Mom, Emily and I were finishing our shopping in Meijers when I spotted a soldier. He was wearing that weird pattern that Dad had explained to me. “Daddy, look!” I said, pulling on his sleeve. “There’s a soldier. Should we go say thank you?”

           “That’s right,” Dad said. He started pushing the cart that way. As we got closer, I could see that the soldier didn’t look very happy. Even though he was young, and couldn't have been more than twenty years old, his shoulders were bent like an old man's, as though he was carrying a weight on them,  and his boots were wet and slushy from the snow outside. As I walked up to him, I was a little scared, but Dad just gave me a nudge and said, “Say, “Thank you for your service, sir.”
       I went over to the man. He looked so much taller than he had when I was looking at him across the room. I craned my head back for a better look at his face and, smiling as best I could, revealing a missing tooth, said, “Thank you for your service, sir!” Just like Dad had told me to.
       Dad chose that moment to come up and give his thanks as well. “We really do want to thank you, sir, for your service to our country. We value your protection with all of this crazy stuff going on.”
       “Thank you,” the soldier said to me in a raspy voice. "I really needed to hear that." To my astonishment, he got down on his knees in front of me, regardless of the dirty store floor, and held out his arms. I went into them. His arms closed around me as though they were made of iron. He buried his head in my shoulder and started to sob. I couldn’t see his tears, but I could feel his shoulders shaking. Mom and Dad looked at each other in distress, as if wondering what they should do. Finally my parents stepped behind the man. Dad started patting his back firmly and Mom rubbed his shoulder for a little bit, saying, “It’s OK, it’s fine, you’re gonna be OK,” with tears running down her own face.
Finally the soldier looked at me through his tears and smiled at me. I smiled back. “I’ve been through a lot. You just gave me a present, do you know that? Something that meant a lot to me.” He briefly touched my nose with one finger and then stood up. “Thank you.”
           The soldier talked to Mom and Dad in big people talk, telling them that he'd been a "POW" for the last few months, and that they'd done some really bad things to his best friend, who had not survived his captivity.
           I don't know the soldier's name, and I never saw him again. But I still pray for him. I wonder, does he know Christ? Does he know the monstrosity of Christ's sacrifice, and does he know that sacrifice is the true meaning of love? It makes me stop and think about the troops out there: It is so hard to give up what you know for what you don't know. These men give up their safety and their lives with their wives and children in order to face giants bigger than they are, to face our country's enemies. They fight so that we can live our lives the way we want to live them, with all the freedoms that we enjoy. They have given up their time, energy, and lives for us.
       It has been said that at least once in their lifetimes, U.S. soldiers sign a blank check to the United States of America for the amount of “One soldier, up to and including his life.”
       So do me a favor and thank the next soldier you see, maybe take a moment to stop and pray with him. And remember, it is his life, not yours.... just as it was Christ's life and not yours. "Greater love hath none than this, that he lay down his life for his friend."