This Memorial Day tribute to soldiers has been published
previously in other venues but our homage to the fallen must never be looked
upon as just a one time expression of appreciation from a grateful nation.
The sacrifice of those who went before and died for those who would come
after should never be forgotten.
As we pause to honor those who died in defense of
America’s freedom, my most personal thoughts turn toward an America ripe with
heroism and the extraordinary dedication of her ordinary sons and
daughters—dedication to an ideal that emanated from God himself—the
inalienable freedom of mankind.
Patriots who carried that struggle for freedom throughout
our history were reflective of every American soldier.
And although many such patriots may never have worn a uniform per se,
they had as much of a soldier’s heart, spirit and soul as the hundreds of
thousands who did and it’s that heart, spirit and soul, dedicated to
freedom’s struggle, not the uniform, that makes one a true American soldier.
I’ve looked into many a soldier’s face during my
lifetime, in the flesh and in pictures, in war and peace, baby-faced and
bloodied. One thing comes through
above all other similarities they may share and it’s that common bond of a
soldier’s soul—a bond that is clear as life.
A bond that is reflected not in the clothes they wear or the weapons they
carry but in their faces and most certainly in their eyes.
The next time you have an occasion to look at pictures of a
past war from the Revolution to the War Between the States, from the Spanish
American War to WW I & II, from Korea to Viet Nam to the Persian Gulf, Iraq
and Afghanistan, I ask that you look past the uniforms and the medals, the
weapons and the flags. Look past
the horses and caissons, the trucks, tanks and guns.
I want you to look into their eyes.
Look long and hard into the eyes of a soldier and feel what you see.
The eyes of a soldier reflect not only the struggle of his
times but also the blood of a thousand brothers and the spirit of God.
A God whose spirit calls his children to freedom and a God who rightly
taught us that the greatest sacrifice anyone could make was that of laying down
ones life for his friends. A God
who also revealed to us in His own holy word, that the eyes were the windows of
the soul and what you will see in a soldier’s eyes is a window into the soul
of a warrior created by God himself; a soul that will command the body be
sacrificed because the friend on his left is in need; a soul that will throw
life in harms way because the soldier on his right has fallen; a soul that would
rather die than risk failing his brother in any way.
The eyes of a soldier tell a story of dedication to the
higher calling which God himself described and of passions unique to each
soldier’s heart; a story of love and passion, of life and death, of
brotherhood and blood, of a truth that those who never marched in such boots
could feel to the depths reflected in those eyes.
The eyes of a soldier are deep; revealing a heart, spirit
and soul dedicated to something approaching the divine, touching upon the
intangible when measured by standards the world may never comprehend.
Do the eyes of each and every soldier so reflect such a
spirit? Clearly the answer is no
because whatever else they are, soldiers are human and therefore are as diverse
as the race itself. But among those
in that picture somewhere you will find reflected the spirit God has placed in
every man and it won’t be in the fancy uniforms nor will you find it in the
shiny sword at his side or the medals on his chest, you will find it in his
eyes. And when you do find that one pair of eyes that vividly speaks to you,
look deeply into them and reflect upon the message they send and allow yourself
to feel the tug on your heart. What
you are feeling spans the ages and reflects that spirit God has instilled in
everyone—a spirit that was always meant to live free and one willing to
sacrifice life itself in the struggle for our freedom.
The cost of that struggle is what we solemnly honor on Memorial Day—a
struggle whose memory is preserved for all time in the eyes of a soldier.
Just the view from my saddle…
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