Paying the Ultimate Price: A Salute to Veterans

Veteran’s Day graces the November calendar, brightening it with red, white and blue. And although this isn’t a day to salute those who paid the ultimate price, it is a time to honor those WILLING to pay it.

Thank you to those currently serving in the United States Armed Forces. I offer you the deepest respect. And to those who served in the Armed Forces in times past, thank you for your service.

Yes, I’m technically a veteran since I served in the US Army Reserve, but it feels like a cheap imitation of the service given by men and women who left their families behind to face enemy fire in a hostile place. I’m in awe of those people (and there was a time in my life when I would have gladly been one of them).

A couple months ago, I read a blog post that touched me. It featured a military veteran.

The Price of Giving it All by Kelly Balarie

Two shadows appeared. One was a small, old, hunched over man with a cane and the other a young and vibrant woman with a flowery dress.

Sitting, they leaned in toward each other and talked. A father and daughter? 

All I could think as I noticed this man’s feeble body, his leaning body on that old war memorial was, “He must be telling her about a life that counted.”

He’s saying, “Sure, I paid a mental price, seeing all that war stuff, seeing people fall. The battles, the pain, the sacrifice. But when push comes to shove, I gave my all. My life. I offered up what mattered.”

Only a few minutes later, I saw the “Vietnam War Veteran” pin on his cap. I wanted to remember this man, because without saying a word, he delivered to my heart a message from God: Kelly, if you give it all up for me, you won’t look back and regret your life. You’ll sit on a memorial of what I did and rejoice over it.

I asked the man if I could take his photo.

To finish reading this post, click here.

I was touched by the idea that God used this bent soldier to speak to the heart of a normal woman. A woman who had never donned a uniform.

He used the old war memorial to remind her (and through her, me) that He will build a memorial of our faith when we give up everything for him.

Jesus promised to reward his followers if they willingly forsook all to follow him. This requires daily recommitting our future to him, picking up our cross and following.

Paul compares the Christian life to that of a soldier.

And let’s face it, most of us live in a cushy home and wear whatever uniform we want and eat things that make military chow resemble Dog Chow. So why aren’t we willing to give it all up for Christ?

As we enter these next few days, flags will fly. Memorials all over the U.S. will host special ceremonies to honor veterans.

If Christ is your savior, consider enlisting in his army, signing on for a lifetime of service. Suit up in the spiritual armor and step outside your comfort zone, committing to give Him all.

He already paid the ultimate price for you.

Are you serving Jesus? Can you commit to following him every day?

Meet Some Everyday Heroes

My fascination with heroes has only been strengthened by the current comics-into-movies craze. What’s even more inspiring? There are heroes around us dressed in the guise of an ordinary person.

This month on my blog, the midweek posts (I will be changing from Thursday to Wednesday halfway through) are dedicated to these individuals.

Today, I’m dumping some links to videos and articles that will give you a glimpse at the sort of people who we don’t see in the news.

Why do they tell us all the bad news? Shouldn’t they always follow it up with some good news?

While mainstream news shows protests and property damage, another kind of television station focuses on the goodness birthed from tragedy. Here is a video that shows how the fury of nature brings out the best in some people.

I’ve seen people hanging from a bridge in protest. I’ve seen others standing on an overpass threatening to jump and end their lives.

Would you have the courage to stop someone from jumping? In this next video, you’ll also see heroes reaching out to rescue those who are falling.

I had mixed feelings about the last story. When I saw the headline, I immediately thought, “Here’s an everyday hero.”

Hero mom dies rescuing son from Oklahoma fire

And then I read the story.

Every mother would hope to have the same courage to enter their burning home when they realized their young child is still inside. That’s what this woman did, after escaping with her two infant sons, too young to walk out on their own.

But then I read on. Rescue crews were on site. Trained professionals were there to do the job. She didn’t listen to them.

In the end, both she and the four-year-old she tried to rescue perished from injuries sustained in the fire. Now her other children our motherless.

Would the fire personnel have been able to pull her son out in time if they weren’t trying to rescue her too?

We’ll never know. While I admire her self-sacrifice, part of me feels the loss was unnecessary.

What’s your idea of an everyday hero? Do you have some stories for me?


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This Mom is my kind of Hero

Mountain lion, cougar, jaguar…a serious woodland predator

All of us are holding out for a hero. In real life we admire the people who go above and beyond. In our fantasy realities (whether film or book), we expect the good guy to save the world while showing us the mud on his face.

What amazes me is that we are surrounded by everyday heroes. These people don’t get the applause of the media or the acclaim of notoriety. Which is probably the way they like it.

Sometimes they make the news, though. It might only be a thirty-second spot in between the tirade about political mudslinging and another stormy weather report, but it makes me want to watch the news.

But I don’t. I read one newspaper. And I trust that media group to shuffle news stories they think I might enjoy into my email inbox.

That’s exactly where I saw this one.

Mama Bear Takes on a Cougar

In Colorado, two boys played outside. You know, like most kids used to do back before video games and other electronics warped their minds. (Whoops! Not the subject of this post. *reels in ire*)

When the screaming began, the mom who was busy working on maintaining her home and feeding her family (a full-time gig) rushed outside.

Did her legs buckle when she saw a mountain lion on top of her youngest son? Maybe her heart tried to long jump out of her chest. Her stomach plunged toward her feet.

And then she roared.

Because that’s what mama bears do when someone messes with one of their cubs.

And this one-hundred percent heroic all-human mother rushed the cougar. The beast probably outweighed her. It’s massive claws wreaked havoc on her son’s clothes. And those teeth? And they were snarling not smiling.

Not saying the cougar was this big, but it wasn’t a house cat

With her bare hands she beat the wild animal off her son. Not with a frying pan or a baseball bat. This angry mama put her OWN claws out and let that cat have a taste of her personal brand of martial arts.

I can picture her screaming at the fleeing backside of the wild cat, “Don’t mess with my cubs!”

Because if you’ve seen a mama bear in protection mode, it’s enough to send most other wild animals running.

Motherhood takes Heroics

While I’m in awe of this true story, I admit I’m pretty impressed with most moms. Even if they don’t destroy wild beasts with their bare hands.

Moms know that love is about sacrifice. They’re willing to take the gift card meant to buy them something nice at the department store and spend it on new shoes their kid needs for soccer. If there’s not enough chicken to go around the dinner table, mom’s not that hungry anyway.

When their kids need a ride, mom dons her chauffeur’s cap, even if it means cashing in pop cans to afford the fuel. Cupcakes are needed for school the next day? In the old days, mom would stay up late baking them from scratch and making thick homemade frosting to slather on them. These days, such a request means another trip to the grocery store. (Didn’t I go there yesterday?)

Sleep goes away when a child is sick and needs monitoring and soothing and another dose of ibuprofen.

Showers might be short and cold when mom takes the last one of the morning (and for this reason I love my tankless hot water heater-no end to hot showers).

This sounds mundane next to the mountain lion story, I know. But have you seen a soccer mom transform into a mother bear when someone bullies her kid?

And those are the sort of moms kids need and deserve. A mother who puts the child’s welfare above her own.

And Lord help anyone who tries to hurt her babies.

 

 

The Price of Freedom

Image from freegreatimages.com
Image from freegreatimages.com

July the Fourth celebrated America’s Independence Day. It wasn’t intended to be just another day off work. Or another opportunity to eat too much and stay out to late. Those fireworks aren’t meant to entertain us with their colorful display.

July the Fourth should be a time when we reflect on the freedoms we enjoy in the United States. On this day, we fill our hearts and mouths with praise for our right to speak independently from our government and worship God as our own personal convictions dictate. We have much for which to be thankful.

One thing Americans neglect on this day is counting the cost. I’m not talking about your grocery bill for all those brats and burgers. Or the exorbitant sum spent on personal and community fireworks. I’m talking about something of intrinsic value – life.

The price of freedom cannot be measured in dollars and cents (although I’m certain bureaucrats have tried). Instead, this precious commodity comes at the expense of lives and blood.

To Recap the Price for America

Freedom is never free. We enjoy the benefits of someone else’s sacrifice. Most of the time, men and women in uniform protect our freedoms at the cost of their own life and health.

For American freedom, the cost in lives can be calculated by totaling the casualties in all the conflicts in which we protected our own lands or aided our allies from hostile invasion (the list doesn’t include dozens of other battles, namely with the Native Americans):

  • Revolutionary War: 25,000
  • War of 1812: 15,000
  • Spanish American War: 2,446
  • Mexican American War: 13,283
  • Civil War: 750,000
  • The Great War (aka World War I): 117,465
  • World War II: 419,000
  • Korean War: 36, 516
  • Vietnam: 58,209
  • Iraq: 4,804 (and counting)
  • Afghanistan: 3,441(and on the rise)*

Our freedom cost 1,445,164 people the ultimate price. After lining up all the people who live in Vermont and South Dakota, you would still need to find 5,243 people to match this number. And those two states rank amount the five smallest population-wise in the US.

Scary, isn’t it?

If the total number of wounded were added to this total, the staggering amount would immobilize us. Or it should.

Why do these people, military and civilian alike, put themselves in harm’s way? They understand that liberty involves sacrifice. Freedom is never free. A steep price in blood and lives purchases our often unappreciated freedom.

Have you thanked God for your physical freedoms lately? What about thanking a man or woman in military uniform for their service? They might have to pay the ultimate price someday soon.

Today, stop and consider the grave payment made for your freedom to take a day off work and chill with friends or family. When those fireworks light up the sky, remember the “rockets’ red glare” and “bombs bursting in air” mentioned in The Star-Spangled Banner. Be grateful. Not everyone is enjoying freedom today.

*Numbers from http://www.militaryfactory.com/american_war_deaths.asp and verified with other resources.

**This post, in its entirety, was previously published at the blog of FMBC on July 1, 2014.

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