The fabric of my life is woven with the thread of love of God, love of family, and love of nation. My two brothers and I served in Army uniform for a combined total of more than 93 years. My great-grandfather served as a soldier in the Civil War; our family even served in the American Revolution.
When I think of service to nation and the real cost of freedom, I am reminded of the quote by Gary Beikirch in the book VALOR. Gary received the Medal of Honor in Vietnam. He writes, “To really live, you must almost die. To those who fight for it, life and freedom have a meaning the protected will never know.” Freedom, both human and spiritual, has a great cost. That cost is paid in blood, sweat, tears, sacrifice and death. The American Ex-POW association motto reminds us, “Freedom is not free!” Cordino Longiotti is a WWII veteran and Ex-POW. In the book, PRISONERS OF HOPE, he said, “Dying for freedom is not the worst thing that could happen; dying for freedom and being forgotten is.” Fred Ferguson received the Medal of Honor in Vietnam. When he speaks to students about freedom, he will often read the poem entitled, It Has Always Been The Soldier.
“It is the soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press;
It is the soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech;
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to demonstrate;
It is the soldier
Who salutes the flag;
Who serves beneath the flag;
And whose coffin is draped by the flag.”
I have a deep love and respect for those who currently serve, their families, and those who have served. There are literally thousands of men and women serving in the armed forces, law enforcement, and fire and rescue units across this nation. For those who serve the nation in uniform, the words service, selfless-service, sacrifice and suffering have a significant and personal meaning.
In the book, A GATHERING OF EAGLES, the following individuals offer their advice about service and leadership…LTG Howard Graves, USA, (Ret), former Superintendent of West Point, states, “Leaders must have integrity because we are in positions of trust. It is important that we have a sincere concern for our fellow men and women because, frankly, we are not here for ourselves, as individuals or institutions. We are here for a greater cause – to glorify God and serve others.” MajGen John Grinalds, USMC (Ret) and past President of the Citadel, offered this advice; “Lead through service to your troops, as Jesus led through service to us, even unto death”. Former Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, offered this statement; “The ultimate evaluation of effective leadership is not determined by how many people serve us, but rather how many people we serve.” Bill Bright, Founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, says, “Our Lord gave one major prerequisite to leadership – servanthood.” In Matthew 20:26, we read, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant”.
During my military career, I spent many early morning hours running in formation with Airborne soldiers. During these morning runs, cadence was frequently called. Usually a non-commissioned officer (NCO) calls a line of a cadence and the soldiers repeat the same line, singing in unison. I still remember one cadence. I periodically use it to illustrate love of God, love of family, and love of nation. The cadence is as follows:
C-130 rollin’ down the strip,
Airborne daddy gonna take a little trip.
Stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door,
Jump right out and count to four.
Now if that main don’t open wide,
I’ve got a reserve by my side.
If that one should fail me too,
Look out ground, I’m coming on through.
If I die in a combat zone,
Box me up and ship me home.
Tell my wife I done my best,
Pin silver wings on my son’s chest.
To the soldier, the final lines of the cadence have a poignant meaning. “If I die in a combat zone, box me up and ship me HOME. Tell my WIFE I done my best. Pin silver wings on my SON’s chest”.
I know of no other group that has a greater love of HOME, a greater love of SPOUSE, and a greater love of CHILDREN than those who serve in uniform in harm’s way.
When I speak to men’s groups and at patriotic events, I periodically ask those present to follow me in the cadence. When we finish, I ask them to look at the last few lines from a “human perspective”, stressing the words… HOME, WIFE, SON. I then ask them to look at the same words from a “spiritual perspective”.
Spiritually, I look at HOME as heaven, my SPOUSE and family as the family of God, and my SON, my children, as my spiritual legacy. We need to ask ourselves, will anybody be in heaven because of us? Do we have a spiritual legacy? Will anybody be in heaven because of you? It was a great honor to serve the nation in uniform. I am proud of my service to this country and consider it a privilege to have served with elite Special Operations and Special Forces units.
Spiritually, I believe there is no greater honor than to serve God. In Psalm 84:10, we read, “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the Army of God, than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”
THOSE WHO SERVE
A ministry to recognize those who serve, their families, and those who have served the nation in uniform.