Human beings do despicable things to other human beings.
Perhaps one of the most awful realities that exists in our troubled world is war – people killing other people in the name of … whatever.
I sometimes honestly and naively wonder, like Rodney King, the late Los Angeles taxi cab driver who became nationally-known after his beating by members of the Los Angeles Police Department following a high-speed car chase in March 1991 was captured on video for all the world to see:
“Why we can’t all just get along?”
One of my all-time heroes, the late musician and peacenik, John Lennon, said in his classic song, “Imagine:”
“Imagine all the people living life in peace … imagine all the people sharing all the world.”
Again, a naïve wish, but still, maybe someday.
Unfortunately, there has always been armed conflict between and among mankind, and there probably always will be. I think it is just the nature of the beast.
Ecclesiastes 3:18, says, “A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
About 15 miles or so from where I live is one of the largest military installations in the world, Fort Hood, a 214,000-acre facility that is home to more than 45,000 U.S. Army combat soldiers. Thousands and thousands of military retirees and combat veterans live in the surrounding communities.
I grew up watching the Vietnam war on television, and every year that I got closer to graduating from high school, I became more and more resigned to the idea that my destiny was to get drafted into the military when I turned 18, get shipped overseas to fight and die in that war. I saw it every night on the evening news.
As it turned out, the draft and the war ended before I was old enough to be eligible, but that is a lasting memory that I’m sure affected my life in some way.
Growing up in Houston, I was never around any soldiers. None of my family served in the military. None of my friends had family serving in the military. The only soldiers I ever saw were on television and in the movies.
It wasn’t until I moved up to central Texas in 1989 that I got to know some real-life soldiers up close and personal; and something I always say I realized from that is that these men and women are not some sort of rifle-carrying machines outfitted in neatly pressed uniforms.
Mostly, they are just people like the rest of us. The big difference is that they are people just like the rest of us who do incredibly brave things, like running toward the bombs, bullets, and blood instead of heading the other direction.
Do they do it for love of God and country? Do they do it because they had few options in life other than to join the military? Is it because they joined for educational benefits, medical benefits, retirement benefits?
It doesn’t matter.
They do it.
And we owe these folks a debt of gratitude and thanks for their service.
War is a horrible thing, but it happens; and thanks to our troops, we still have the greatest military in the world – political issues notwithstanding – and having a powerful military is one of the things that makes our country great.
According to George Washington, first U.S. president, leader of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, and one of the country’s founding fathers:
“If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War.”
Now listen, I am not a jingoist, a hawk, a warmonger. Nothing could be further from the truth. But I do have a distinct and profound admiration for the guys and gals in uniform who put themselves in harm’s way when they are asked to do so.
I wonder if I could do it.
Remember the scripture John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this; that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
God bless our soldiers.
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