Today is Veteran’s Day. Like so many in our nation’s family homes, I pass my father’s picture each day of my life. My wife has it placed in our living room. Each time I pass it, I think of his sacrifice, his heroism as he commanded troop transport ships in World War Two, going from NYC to Liverpool, delivering sacred American soldiers, sons of our nation, to Britain, to defend freedom and liberty from oppressors who sought to destroy the world. In the end, we know they defeated them. Through U Boats firing holes into his ship, constant fear of attack as he crossed the frightening North Atlantic, too many months and years away from his childhood home and family, with the accompanying toll that it took on his marriage, his emotions and his very life, my father gave his all for my freedom. He died when I was only five. His picture, in the same old cheap metal frame, has sat, at one time or another, in my humble little room back in my childhood home in South Louisiana, next to my bunk when I was in the Navy, or in our homes as we followed the Lord through His calls on us. As I said, it is still there.
I am thinking about that picture this morning. I am thinking that my father in his Merchant Marine uniform, then conscripted into the service of the US Navy, as a young lieutenant, smiling into a camera that would snap a photo to be sent back to his mother and brothers and sisters, is just like all the other pictures in living rooms around America. Some are sailors from World War Two. Some are soldiers from Korea; others snapshots from Japan as they prepared to sail to Vietnam. Some are Marines from the Gulf. Some photos are very new: airmen from Iraq, or Guardsmen from Afghanistan. But they all bear witness to the fact that some have chosen to stand and fight against evil, so that others can live in peace. That is a picture of the sacrificial love of God in Christ. I always think of that sacrifice of the Lord when I think of the sacrifice of soldiers.
For me, as an Army Reserve chaplain who has seen American heroes coming back from battle for our country’s freedom, I can truly say to my son, “There are heroes among us. Just look at your grandfather’s picture and remember that one thing, Son, there are heroes among us.”