Only two defining forces offered to die for you

America is a Christian nation, land of the free, and home of the brave. Only two defining forces offered to die for you — Jesus Christ and American servicemen and women — Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.

As a retired Marine I visit almost every day with a good friend. Her husband passed away, but retired from the U.S. Army after a long dedicated career. I never met him but know in my heart he was a good man, because I can see it in his wife and daughter.

I’ve enjoyed many good conversations on my porch with friends who are now long gone. They told me how scared they were as young boys on D-day, seeing bodies of fellow Soldiers and Marines in the sea, as they too ran from ship to shore.

Look a man in the eye as he puts memories into words, and if you see a tear in the corner of his eye, or hear his voice faulter, you know his words come from his heart and soul. We talk to each other, but rarely talk to others about our experiences. Many would not understand.

I heard stories from veterans of the Korean War, and received a personal invitation from the president to join the Vietnam conflict. I went water skiing with a Marine who was shot directly above his heart in Korea. The exit wound is one he rarely sees in the mirror, but he valued life even more from that day on, and told me if the wind had changed that day….

My name is on the Vietnam Memorial – First name, middle initial, and last name. It is not me, but a Lieutenant from West Virginia. How many who only knew my name thought I died in the Ia Drang Valley in 1965?

These days I sit on my porch and don’t like everything I see. As Soldiers and Marines, did Fred and I fight for freedom so others are free to act like idiots? As a good Christian I am asked to forgive, and love my neighbor. Why is it so hard?

Maybe my neighbors forget about their children, forgot about God’s grace, and forgot about forgiveness God offers. The answer can be found at the end of each day.

What God offers us each night is a chance to release whatever burdens we bring with us to the night. Whatever went wrong, whatever unfortunate words were spoken, whatever resentments we harbored, the night is a chance to let them go. And ultimately, we are powerless to change that.

What we do have is the power to turn to God, our constant companion during the day, and say, “This day was OK, some good and some bad. Thanks for being there with me.”

There is a strong connection between the military and God. I’ll let Radney Foster finish for me with “Angel Flight”, and dedicate this article to all servicemen and women, their families, and their friends. May the Lord have a special place in heaven for us when we meet.