Saturday, May 18, 2013 is Armed Forces Day. It is a day set aside when people are encouraged to show appreciation to members of the Armed Forces. I have been thinking a lot about what it takes to join one of our nation’s Armed Forces. There is a young man at the high school where I work who very much wants to be a soldier for the US Army someday. Whenever there is a career day or any kind of future-goals dress-up day you can be sure he will be proudly walking the halls in his army fatigues. It makes me feel patriotic just looking at him.
I have deep admiration for those who join any branch of the military. It takes courage to step completely into the unknown, leave family and friends behind, and sign up to become part of the greatest military force in the world, defending the greatest nation in the world.
As you may know by now, Sarah is an incredibly proud veteran of the United States Army. She and I used to work for a church. When we were on staff together, she was the youth director and I was the children’s ministries’ director. Drawing on her military training, one of the dreams she had was of someday offering a “boot camp” experience for the teens as a training and challenge period to help prepare them for spiritual warfare they would face as teens and even throughout life.
Every person I have known who served in the armed forces at some point in his/her life always carried lessons that could be applied to the civilian world. I can’t t think of any other group of people I know who share a common career and bring away as many life applications such as those of the people who served in the military.
My grandfather served in World War II. He was in the Navy, on a boat in Japan and had to keep watch for kamikazes. He told me that was one of the scariest things he faced while he served, because every single ship that approached had the potential to become a deadly encounter. He said that unknown was so frightening it made most other unknowns of life seem small. I have the Bible he received from President Roosevelt when he joined the Navy and left for the war. Although Grandpa didn’t talk a lot about the war, after his time in the service he always maintained many of the characteristics the Navy developed in him. He had a strong sense of self-discipline and, even though he was quite short in stature, he carried himself tall.
Through the years, my mom and grandma shared with me some of the experiences they had as a child and spouse of a seaman. Grandpa left for the war and was gone for over two years. During that time, Grandma worked and raised their two daughters alone. Mom told me when Grandpa came home, she and my aunt had no memories of him and they did not want him to stay at their house with their mom! People who serve in the Armed Forces make sacrifices and their families do to!
Those human beings who join the military belong to an elite group of individuals. I mean, not everybody is willing and able to sign up for a job or even a career in which they could very well end up getting killed. By enlisting, people are essentially saying they will sacrifice their lives for the betterment of everyone else. Such a huge sacrifice. Such amazing human beings.
The only other person I can think of Who was so willing to give up His life for others was Jesus. When I think about the sacrifice He made for everyone in the world, it brings tears to my eyes. When I think about the sacrifices men and women make today to serve this nation in one of the branches of the Armed Forces I feel proud and emotional as well.
Thank You, God - for sacrificing Your life because of my sins. And thank you every single person who has served this country to protect my freedom. We are a blessed nation.