Roger Helle / May 15, 2020

Armed Forces Day Tribute

Reflections on the sacrifices made by those who serve our great nation.

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life.” —II Corinthians 1:7

It was the most chaotic experience of my life, and I was only 18. I remember the sounds of automatic weapons firing nonstop, the screams of wounded Marines and North Vietnamese troops mixed together, grenades going off and mortar rounds dropping into our perimeter. My mind was reeling, but I continued to focus on keeping the attacking enemy troops at bay. I watched acts of self-sacrifice and heroism unlike any war movie I had ever seen growing up.

Wounded Marines died because helicopters could not penetrate the jungle canopy. The stench of death filled the valley as the fighting continued — at times hand to hand. The battle lasted for three days deep in the jungle valley before the enemy retreated. On the fifth day, we marched out of the valley, at least those of us still alive.

The memories of the men who fought, bled, and died around me will always be there. I witnessed firsthand courage unlike anything I had ever seen. The Apostle John described it perfectly in John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”

This Saturday is Armed Forces Day. Unless you are a veteran or related to one, you may not be aware of it. It’s not on the calendar on my cellphone or even on my Day Timer calendar, but on May 16 we will celebrate all who have served in any branch of the service. Begun by President Harry Truman in 1950, the purpose was to make Americans aware of the great work our military folks do.

Today, less than 1% of Americans are serving in our military. Today’s military is probably the most educated and diverse group to have ever put on a uniform. I meet men and women who are serving and I am impressed by their sacrifice and love of country. That element of patriotism is somehow lacking across our country today.

We know many on the Left have no respect for our military. We know many (not all) educators feel the same way. But to those of us who have worn the uniform and put our lives on the line for freedom, America is the greatest nation on the face of the earth.

When I was asked to join The Patriot Post team, I was honored. I had known Mark Alexander for over 20 years by then. His family has a rich history of patriotic service to this nation going back generations. Mark’s father was a WWII fighter pilot and one of his sons is currently a Marine Corps infantry officer. The Patriot Post team comes from different backgrounds but share a common love for this country.

This weekend, reach out to someone who is serving or has served. Ask them their story. Let them know how grateful you are for putting themselves on the front line of freedom. If they are like the heroes I know, they will deflect the praise and say they are/were “simply doing their job.” Thank them anyway.

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