We are at war.
As a nation we established our legal system and social order on the basic teachings of the Bible. Several principles emerged that have stood our country in good stead for better than two hundred years. First, there was the basic premise that we are united together as Americans; therefore we would stand shoulder-to-shoulder in support and defense of our fledgling nation. Second, we implemented the principle of the Golden Rule: Do for others what you would have them do for you. And third, we would consider others and their needs before our own. All these concepts have to do with being a servant.
“A servant?” you ask. Yes! This one trait alone set us apart as unique from the rest of the nations. We have always been ready to serve others, even at personal setback and loss. When another nation was in trouble, they turned to the United States. We would restore the natural order of things, or at least attempt to thwart the evil doers, often times at significant cost both in money and lives. Let me offer an example.
Much hew and cry, and no end of hand-wringing, has been on public display over the announcement that we have reached the 2000 mark in the number of dead American military members since we began the war in Iraq two and a half years ago. Each one of those American lives is precious and irreplaceable. As a Navy chaplain, it has been my great honor and great sorrow to lay to rest some of these patriots.
Now consider this: Sixty years ago, on a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean, more than 6,000 Marines died battling an entrenched Japanese force on the black, sandy beach of Iwo Jima, known as “Sulfur Island” in Japanese. This was not six thousand dead in two and a half years. This was in FOUR DAYS! And that was just to secure a toe-hold on the beach. The rest of the ten-square-mile island still needed to be wrested from the enemy. Why was this island needed? To secure the airfield in the middle of this island; an airfield Japanese planes used to attack our Navy ships with impunity. Once we conquered Iwo Jima, an effort that took about seven weeks, we were then able to use this island airfield to attack mainland Japan. It was a critical battle against Imperialist Japan. How ironic that several decades later we would return this island to the Japanese.
Let me ask you. Would we as Americans stand for such losses today? Would we have fair reporting from the media? Would FDR’s motives be roundly criticized by partisan senators and congressmen on Capital Hill? Would the Cindy Sheehan’s of the world be protesting the war and the deaths of their sons on Main Street, U.S.A.?
Consider Corporal Jeff Starr, a Marine on his third tour in Iraq. He left a message for his girlfriend on his computer in the event that he was killed. This is what he said. “I don't regret going. Everybody dies, but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq. It's not to me. I'm here helping these people so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom. Now this is my mark.” He died in an attack last April.
May I remind you that we are in a War on Terrorism? It is expedient that we stand firm in this fight. If the United States were to withdraw from Iraq tomorrow, these Islamic terrorists would not stop their merciless slaughter of freedom-loving people. We were attacked by them on 9-11. Remember?
The men and women of our military are servants. They serve us as Americans by protecting us from the wolf at the door. And they serve the world by taking the fight to an enemy that would otherwise rule by intimidation.
Next Friday, November 11, is Veteran’s Day. Please offer a prayer for our military. Then remember September 11 – and thank a veteran.