Home > Culture & Media, Faith & Family, History, Military > Hug a Veteran This Memorial Day…My Personal Tribute

Hug a Veteran This Memorial Day…My Personal Tribute

Originally posted on November 11, 2011, for Veteran’s Day, I cannot improve on this.  Thus, at the risk of self-aggrandizement, which would be truly ironic given the nature of this post, I present it for your edification again.

~~~

 

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We call them the Greatest Generation. They fought what was probably the last war in which moral clarity was not attacked and eroded by the enemy within, at least not to the extent to which is done today. In many cases they were barely out of high school, and lied about their age to get in, driven by a sense of duty to country that has become an endangered species in many places these days. (I thank God for the many who still have it and are now in uniform or preparing to put one on.)

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History tells us of the tremendous toll paid by these young men, both in the lives given in the ultimate sacrifice, and all too frequently in the havoc wrought upon the lives of those whose souls were maimed by the carnage they witnessed and in which the enemy made necessary for them to participate. Yet because they had moral clarity in their day, they acknowledge with both their words and their deeds that the defense of liberty is worth such a cost. Our world is fallen and evil is present, definable, and represented by individuals and groups within the human race despite what your liberal “multiculti” teachers may have tried to tell you.

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I have always respected and held the veterans of this conflict (and any other conflict) in high esteem, being an avid student of the history of WWII, but had never had the opportunity to know any such very closely. That changed in November of 2008 when I met my step-father for the first time since he married my mother three years earlier. My step-father was 86 years old at the time and had been in the U.S. Army Air Corp. (later to become the U.S. Air Force) during WWII as an aerial photographer. At age 19, he apparently had no problem hanging out of bomb bay doors during bombing runs to get the necessary surveillance pictures with nothing but a buddy sitting on his legs to keep him from plummeting out with the rest of the payload.

He is also a survivor of Iwo Jima.

Iwo Jima. The words should immediately remind the student of history of the famous flag raising. It was one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific campaign. He was in the second wave and so missed the worst of the initial assault. But he saw his share of blood and body parts and lost his share of friends and buddies. When asked for some of his war stories, he broke down in tears only once during his brief visit with us. Most of the time, and indeed, throughout most of his life since the war, he has been one of those who adjusted back into civilian life with the strength of God’s grace and the American spirit. His sense of humor was alive, active, and put you ROFLOL without resorting to crudity or vulgarity. My mother was blessed to have had God’s providence bring this man to her, and I am honored to have called him my step-father.

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And this honorable man was very distressed by what he saw going on in this country today. That distress was primarily caused by the fact that he saw the freedoms for which he fought and for which his friends died being surrendered to the onslaught of leftist liberalism more and more each day. He was incensed at the Democrat’s defeatism in the war on terrorism, and he was appalled by the gutless wonders on both sides of the aisle who cannot see beyond their own personal power struggle to the real dangers in the world threatening our country and, indeed, the entire world.

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The astute reader will have noticed that all the verbs in the above description of this man are in the past tense.  Saturday night, February 19, 2011, at about 11:00 PM, my step-father (I’ll call him Joe) received his final wish and was ushered into the presence of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Like Jacob/Israel of old, he was able to have last words with each of his children and loved ones, and then was “gathered to his people.”  I have no doubt that he will hear those words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of thy Lord!”

You see, although my personal relationship was carried out almost entirely by long distance phone calls, in the same way astronomers deduce the presence of a planet by its effects on other heavenly bodies, so Joe’s character could be readily deduced by its impact on the lives of others, and most notably on that of my Mom.

I did have that one opportunity to observe Joe firsthand when they were eventually able to visit us, and in that short time, I truly grew to love and respect this gentle giant. (And by giant, I don’t mean in stature but in Christian integrity.) His sense of humor was infectious, his faith in his God triumphant, and his care for my Mom obvious. How could I not love this man? It was with no difficulty at all, and the very truth, that I shook his hand as they were leaving and told him point blank that I was proud to call him “Dad.”

That pride was even more reinforced by my phone calls with my Mom and Joe in the ensuing years. The joy and happiness, in the Lord and not in frivolous things, that Joe inspired in my Mom was such a blessing to observe. I was constantly challenged by the calm acceptance of the physical pain he endured as his body succumbed to age but his spirit clung to the truths of Scripture and rejoiced in the Lord regardless, truly a living lesson in Philippians 4 (the whole chapter!) attitudes.

The strength I’ve seen in my Mom in the last months leading up to his graduation as Joe’s health declined and he was hospitalized is a direct reflection of the spiritual life Joe nurtured in her, and while I weep over the events that have required the utilization of that strength those last days, I rejoice that my Mom has had that strength at her disposal planted in her from her time with her husband.

So, yes, I know my step-father is now enjoying his rest from pain and his audience with his Lord. May I find the same strength of character and follow in his footsteps to the foot of the same cross of our Lord and Savior. Amen.

~~~

As a measure of the character of the man and those like him, I give you a short piece he wrote last Veteran’s Day that was published in their local paper regarding the meaning of that day.

Army Air Forces, World War II
November 11, 2010

I am an Iwo Jima survivor, and Veterans Day to me represents the sacrifices our men and women endured during the wars.

As a combat veteran, I am appalled as to what is happening to the freedom that was bought by the lives of all servicemen and women. It seems that those in power have totally forgotten what our Constitution stands for and the oath that they swore to uphold. They should be ashamed of what they are doing in Washington.

Recently I had the honor to visit Arlington National Cemetery. I stood in awe of the many graves that represent the price paid for the freedoms we enjoy.

Please, each and every president, senator and congressman, visit this hallowed place, examine yourselves and honor those brave men and women by standing up for what you once swore to uphold. Be not a Democrat or Republican or independent, but be an honest and truthful public servant. God bless and save America.

 

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So am I going anywhere with this? The writer of the book of Hebrews captures the thought: “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”  (Heb 12:4) In 2008, the GOP had its head handed to it on a platter…again. Yet, as the polls and pundits repeatedly said, conservatism did not lose, the GOP that abandoned conservatism lost. Still, the pragmatic outcome was that conservatism was in the back seat watching someone else drive the car, and they appeared to be driving it towards a cliff.

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We are that much closer to the cliff’s edge today, and we have another opportunity to do something about it in the upcoming election.  If we are to prevent the car from being driven off the cliff, we cannot sit back and enjoy the ride, pointing fingers at each other and everyone else. Let us learn from the Greatest Generation that there are some things worth fighting for, and that our liberties fall into that category. Duty and honor require it of us now as it did then for the Greatest Generation.

 

While I’m not a fan of “rock” music, the power of music in this video helps transmit the message with clarity, the sentiment is on target and the various comparisons made throughout give a sobering reality check for those who think otherwise.

 

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel

 

Here’s another classic that speaks volumes and is well worth the time to watch it all:

 

And truly let us not forget…

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  1. 11 Nov 2011 at 2:32 PM

    A most fitting tribute, Interface. Thank you so very much for working to put this tribute together. It is inspiring, heartwarming and humbling all at the same time.

    My “Thank you” to all who have served in our military.

  2. 11 Nov 2011 at 4:33 PM

    You are most welcome…now go find your favorite veteran to hug!

  3. Deborah Geary
    10 Nov 2013 at 11:09 AM

    If I only COULD hug my favorite veteran today, I most certainly would. He is my father, Stan Chester. He died in 2008. My father was a Navy crewman in WWII, flying B-24 Liberators in the Pacific Theater. Stan was head radioman and tailgunner. He helped to provide air help on Iwo Jima, PalaiLu, and other flights that took him into the China Sea. He was decorated as a DFC, a Distinguished Flying Cross medal. Stan never talked about the war until we were all in high school. Then we heard his stories of modesty, never bragging, always honoring his “brothers” that served with him. My dad was an amazing human being, all his life he helped others, brought servicemen home to our house for Thanksgiving or a spontaneous dinner. We were Jewish, so my father, still in the Navy, a Chief Petty Officer, would volunteer to work on Christmas and Easter so his fellowmen could celebrate at home with their families. He was the president of our local VFW Post in San Diego, California, where we retired. My sisters and I went with him to every reunion and even got to meet 2 of his flying buddies who praised Stan beyond belief. We never knew any of this. My sister and I also got to persuade our father to attend the USSMidway “Hands Across the Pacific” ceremony. Japanese fighters and Navy fliers exchanged signed flags to the other’s country. A B-24 and Japanese Zero planes swirled their streams together overhead. My father had not wanted to go, but he did it for the two of us. At the end of this incredible ceremony, the old men of two countries from decades ago hugged, cried, and held onto one another. We all wept like babies. I carry that in my heart, along with other memories of my loving father. Until he passed away, Veteran’s Day held little more than a day off from school or work. Now, every ad, every word about Veterans can set me into a weeping moment. I miss you, Stan Chester. You are my hero. For always. Sincerely, Deborah Chester Geary

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