William Tanner, the president of the old Home Mission Board of the SBC (1977-86) once told a story from his childhood growing up in a small town in Texas. It was during World War II and in his town there was an insurance agent who had four sons who were in the military fighting the war. This particular insurance agent had a display supporting the war effort in his storefront window that he changed regularly. Tanner said that he liked going by the store regularly and gazing at the different displays.
One day, as he rounded the corner to look in the window, the poster that he saw caught his attention. It was a picture blown up to about 3 feet by 3 feet of a soldier lying face down in the dirt. His helmet had been blown off his head. His outstretched hand seemed to be reaching for the weapon that was just out of his grasp. But the thing that caught Tanner the most was the caption that went with the picture: "What have you done for your country today that a soldier should die for you tomorrow?"
Tomorrow is Memorial Day. Many Americans simply think of this holiday as another day off from work, a three-day weekend that traditionally marks the beginning of the summer vacation season. I enjoy Memorial Day for the same reasons. However, sometimes I think it does us good to pause and reflect about the meaning of this day. It honors the veterans who have served in the military certainly. But, more importantly, it memorializes those who have been killed in the service of our country.
If you read all my blogs you can probably tell that I am opposed to this war in Iraq. It was truly the "wrong war, fought in the wrong place, at the wrong time." One of the reasons that I am supporting Barack Obama is because he opposed the war from the beginning and is pledging to end it as soon as possible after he takes office. It may go down as the biggest foreign policy blunder in American history. I could not be any more opposed to the war in Iraq.
However, I am not opposed to the soldiers who are fighting it. They are us. Kids, moms and dads, sisters and brothers. They chose to answer their country's call and serve in the military. I believe that supporting them for me is working to bring them home soon. That's why I oppose the war.
My generation made the mistake of opposing a war and the soldiers who fought it. That scenario was a big mistake. In fact, a large part of the Vietnam Veterans were drafted; they had no choice. Nevertheless, this time we can support the soldier but oppose the war.
So, tomorrow I am going to think about and be thankful for our veterans, especially those from the American Revolution to the present who gave their lives in service to their country's call. And, I am going to continue to work to bring an end to the war in Iraq. And, I am going to re-commit myself to serving my country in every way I can.
Remember Captain Miller's words to Private Ryan on the bridge in the movie Saving Private Ryan: "Earn this!"
"What have you done today that a soldier should die for you tomorrow?"