This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.
He leapt across sand bags and dodged bullets to reach the fallen. His ears rang from the deafening roar of explosions and the crack of gunshots. The air was filled with shouts and screams. The smell of death and blood was nauseating. The medic lifted the motionless body and with great effort, ran back to the Huey and heaved it inside. The sweat poured down his face as he turned around and raced back across the line of fire to carry more bodies and hopefully save a few lives.
When he came home, there were no parades to honor him or his fallen brothers.
Nobody would have given up their seat on an airplane to thank him.
Instead, as his broken unit marched home, he was assaulted by insults… and fecal matter.
These men who had sought to serve the country were spit on by the very people they protected. He was a hero, being treated like a villain. I still look at videos and pictures from that tumultuous time and burn with indignation over the injustice of it all.
My Father was an Army Infantry Medic. I only have a handful of stories about his time in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Many of those stories he kept to himself. He will always be a hero to me. He saved lives in Vietnam and now he cares for those on end-of-life care. There has always been a desire to heal, even in the midst of bloody battles.
Many veterans have stories of war and their adjustment into civilian life. My father’s is one of millions. A few months ago, I read American Sniper by Chris Kyle and it was an eye-opening look into the current war in the middle east and the struggles our men and women face as they exit military life. (Just be aware that there is foul language). If you don’t know anyone in the military, I suggest you read it to gain insight into the challenges of military life for both the soldier and the spouse. I highly recommend the book Unbroken as well. Don’t watch the movie… Read the book. Audible has a great version, (though you might want to have a map handy of the South Pacific and Japan). Louis Zamperini’s story is one of intense suffering and redemption from the chains of PTSD. He nearly lost everything, but he found healing through Christ.
Veteran’s Day is a holiday we celebrate every year in the United States. It’s history began with Armistice Day on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.” It was the end of the Great War in Europe. Millions had died. Millions more had to live with the trauma of war. You can read more about how the current holiday came about here.
Veteran’s Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day. On Memorial Day, we remember the fallen. On Veteran’s day, we thank the living (veterans). Many have fought in wars and lost dear friends. Thousands live with PTSD. These men and women sacrificed stability, time with loved ones, and innocence. They are a buffer against the ugliness and brutality of war. It’s because of them that we in the United States retain our freedom.
I am thankful for my freedom in this country. No other country has the vast freedom that we enjoy here. It’s because of these men and women (any many who came before) that we have this freedom. God has blessed us with these brave people.
Take some time today to pray for them and give thanks to God for them.
Take some time today to thank a veteran. I’d start listing names here, but I’d surely leave somebody out.
To all my dear friends who have served, nothing I can say will ever truly express my deep and abiding gratitude for what you have given to protect my family and our country.