Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Grateful Heart: Veterans

Noah Emerson Lindsey

My daddy was a veteran. He was the most handsome, charming man around. He was smart, and talented, and kind. He had a gentle spirit and the heart of a romantic idealist. When he joined the service and was sent into the battle of World War II, he believed he could make a difference. He would help safeguard our nation and save the world.

He would never have admitted such romantic notions, but he was a patriot at heart. 

I cry when I hear the national anthem and clap when I see a group of soldiers in the airport. I'm the first to admit that I'm a sentimental patriot. My daddy (along with thousands upon thousands of men and women throughout the years) was more than a sentimental patriot. He was the kind of patriot willing to leave blood on the ground because of his convictions.

He was a solder. 

It was World War II and he was in Europe one early morning, the first one awake. He got up to stir the fire and make the coffee. That's the kind of man he was, always the first one to serve. Another soldier awakened and, in those early hours, lost it. He grabbed his gun and started shooting. 

By the time he was subdued, my daddy was on the ground. Shot through the back. The bullet went through his shoulder and out his arm, ripping bone and flesh as it went. It was a painful wound and it took a long time to heal, but it did. He overcame.

He was wounded in service but turned down the Purple Heart because he wasn't wounded in battle. Medals should be saved for those who deserved them most, he thought, not for those wounded at the campfire.

After the war, he was still the nicest man around. Children still loved him. He was still smart and talented and kind. 

He hid it well, but he had sustained wounds to his soul that were much deeper than a bullet's path. They didn't heal as well and, eventually, they would take a toll that was unfathomable. At one time the number one salesman in the nation for his company, he died a migrant orange picker. During the intervening years, drugs would take a toll that was unimaginable.

The toll would be paid by more than a soldier. A wife would be left to fend for two little girls by herself in a time when most wives stayed home. Two little girls would be left fatherless and wondering if someone else they loved would disappear without an explanation. 

My daddy, his wife, his children, and extended families on both sides of their marriage would all be wounded by the madman's bullet before its path was done. The scars would last for decades. 

Today is Veterans' Day. It is more than a day to wave the flag and sing the National Anthem. It is more than wearing red, white, and blue, or hanging bunting on the walls. It is a day to remember their sacrifice and honor our soldiers for their service to us, to our country. 

It should be a day, too, to remember that our veterans' sacrifice did not end with their discharge papers. The horrors of war were imprinted on their hearts and minds. Those horrors will not easily be erased. Those who served still serve and, for some, the battle rages on, even years after the last gun has sounded. 

Be kind to all the veterans you meet. The war they fought was bigger than you know. Lasted longer than you could imagine. Cost them more than you would have ever wanted to pay. 

Be gentle with their families. They, too, have paid a terrible price. Many will pay the price for the rest of their lives as they struggle alongside their soldiers to overcome the wounds war has caused.

Be more than kind. Support our veterans and those now in service, with your cards, and letters, and emails, and (most of all) with your prayers. Pray for safety of body, mind, and spirit. Pray that the destruction of the enemy would be limited, that our soldiers would both persevere through and overcome all the evil the encounter. Pray for healing of body, mind, and spirit.

On this Veterans' Day, my heart is full of gratitude for their service and their sacrifice. Even more than gratitude, though, my heart is full of sorrow for the price they have paid in the battle against the tyranny of this world. 

I give you honor, Veterans. I give you thanks. 

If I could, I would also give you peace.

In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links:  The Grateful Heart: Avoiding DistractionMaggie: Eye ProtectionMaggie: Wanting Eye DropsGrateful Heart: Superheroes and Missions Conference , The Blessings That Were Not, and Loss of Power.

The most read posts of the past week: The Grateful Heart: Orchestration of God

#VeteransDay #Veterans #PTSD #thankyouforyourservice