I have just received this heartfelt missive from a U.S. military officer currently deployed in the Middle East, and was moved by his passionate writing of his experience in honoring the heroes making their final journey home. God, bless this writer and all those in harm’s way. Amen.
“Family & Friends,
I just returned from a ceremony. At 10 o’clock this morning, I experienced a paradox that penetrated my heart. On the one hand, it was the greatest honor I could bestow on another Soldier. Yet, on the other hand, it was the heaviest burden I could carry for him. I swelled up with pride one moment as I saw each American flag, but had to suppress anger as I considered what happened to the warrior beneath it. I thanked God for the ultimate sacrifice of each brave volunteer, but mourned deeply for the families who would receive them.
These precious souls.
All of them sons.
Some of them husbands and fathers.
Some of them brothers and uncles.
All of them heroes.
You see, I stood among 200 fellow warriors on the tarmac just moments ago as we welcomed seven of our courageous brothers who “gave the last full measure of devotion.” This, their last stop before they fly home to America for a heart-wrenching reunion, not the way their loved ones imagined. Grieving families who must now endure indescribable pain.
I couldn’t help but notice the irony of the moment. The sky was as blue as I’ve ever seen it. Clear, not a cloud. Hot, but no humidity, and a cool breeze. This very spot where I stood today is one of the most desired points in this war-torn region because this is where you catch the “Freedom Bird” as we call it—the plane that takes you home to embrace your loved ones. But today’s bird could hardly be called “Freedom.” I couldn’t keep from picturing the wives and children, the mothers and fathers, the friends and loved ones.
We collectively saluted each American Hero as he was gently and slowly loaded onto the aircraft with precision and grace. The chaplain offered a prayer of gratitude for the price these men paid in service to our country, and he pleaded for God’s comfort for those left behind. Then, each flag-draped casket disappeared into the plane’s belly of darkness. It was a moving tribute that brought the reality of war squarely into focus.
Sadly, these ceremonies are not uncommon. So I ask you to petition God on behalf of these men and the many others who stand courageously in the fight even as you read this. While I did not know a single one of these heroes, their presence brought a wellspring of emotion as I prayed for their families and the brothers who fought beside them on the battlefield. I don’t know where their hearts were, but I do know that the remaining harvest is plenty and there is no time to waste. So, again, I ask that you pray for God to move in the hearts of our Nation’s warriors so they can personally receive God’s grace and have the assurance that this brief visit here on earth is only the beginning of an eternal love affair with Jesus.
We can’t choose how we start this race called life, but we all must make the choice as to how we are going to finish it. The only true “Freedom Bird” chose three nails, and He took our place on the cross so that we could have a place in Heaven.
P.S. I asked God to give me peace and He drew me to His Word—Romans 5:1-10—maybe you’ll find comfort there as well.”
Romans 5: 1-11 Peace and Joy
1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!