INTRO.- ILL.- All Soldiers Are Heroes by Christel Ables. I am new to the army. I have only been in for a little over a year. I come from a long line of soldiers. My father, Robert Ables is an Iraqi veteran. I found out a month ago that I will be going as well in just a few months.
I was scared out of my mind, as I had been keeping up with all the news since the war started. I talked to my dad about the war. He was there just before, during, and after the initial bombing of Iraq.
I will never forget what he told me. He said, " Honey, you would be silly not to be scared. Being over cautious is what keeps most soldiers alive. Remember that courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to face it. It is in my opinion that every soldier is already a hero. People who join the military know that someday, sooner or later, will face conflict. That is heroism. I was in charge of a platoon, and one thing we did was go around and let everyone tell the story of why they joined. Most answers were for college money, for opportunity, to see the world... but one soldier told me something I rarely hear, He said that he lived in New York when 9-11 happened. His whole world died.
His wife worked in the trade center, and his 11-month-old son was there at day care. They didn’t make it out alive. He had no one to live for. His parents died when he was 17. He decided that he could live for his country and continue to fight for the freedom that his father and grandfather fought for him."
With a hug and a good night, I went into my room and reflected on what my father said. He was right you know...I AM scared, but I am also ready to fight for my country, and for everything that our veterans fought for before my time.
Brothers and sisters, there are many veterans of war who could share similar stories of what took place in war. Today, we want to honor and salute our armed service veterans and there are many reasons for doing this.
I. THEY LEFT HOME TO SERVE OUR COUNTRY
Gen. 12:1-4 "The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran."
God called Abraham into His service. It must have been a difficult thing for Abraham to leave his country, his people, etc. He left, having little contact, no way to contact them, etc. How lonesome he must have been.
Similarly, it has to be very tough for a young person to leave his or her family for the military life. It’s a strange and different world and sometimes, no doubt, a very difficult world for some. Little contact with family. Snail mail and few phone calls. No e-mail communication like we have it today.
ILL.- Here is what one young man said when leaving home: "I remember packing a suitcase and carrying it out to the kitchen, standing very still for a few minutes, looking carefully at the familiar objects all around me. The old chrome toaster, the telephone, the pink and white Formica on the kitchen counters. The room was full of bright sunshine. Everything sparkled. My house, I thought. My life. I’m not sure how long I stood there, but later I scribbled out a short note to my parents." What I said, exactly, I don’t recall now. Something vague. Taking off, will call, love Tim."
Leaving home for the military life had to be tough, no matter how it happened or to whom. And it was even worse those men who were married. They have to leave a wife behind to manage things. Thank God for their commitment!
II. THEY SERVED WITH A MINIMUM OF PAY
I think that most people could have been made better money out of the military at least, in comparison with their starting pay. From what I found out, I think that base pay for someone today is around $1200 a month.
- Cecil Hancock’s military pay in 1942 was $21 a month and working as a civilian was 35 cents an hour, which could have amounted to perhaps $70 a month.
- B. J. Simpkins’ pay as $70 a month in 1950 in the Army.
- Red Williams’ pay in the Air Force in 1950 was $70 after basic training.
- Bill Griffin’s was in the National Guard for 11 years and served 9 months in Little Rock. He doesn’t remember what his pay was.
- Lee Dent’s pay in the Army was $79 a month in 1954.
- Paul McKnight’s pay in the Marines was $78 month in 1958.
- Charlie Burch’s pay (went through ROTC) and went in the Army 2nd Lt. in 1959 $222 a month.
- Jim Davis’ pay in the Army Reserve was $68 in 1961. (stayed in six years)
- E J Cunningham’s pay $78 in 1963 in the Army.
- Ted Smith’s pay in the Army in 1965 was about $85.
III. THEY SERVED WITH STRICT DISCIPLINE
II Tim. 2:3-4 "Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer."
Most branches of the service require strict discipline in various ways: reporting for duty, cleanliness, personal duties, etc.
ILL.- Here is what was written by one soldier in 1845 in the US Army: "Respect for the rank of commissioned and noncommissioned officers, regardless of the worthiness of the individual, was demanded unconditionally. Under no circumstance could an enlisted man overstep the line that separated him from his superiors. Gambling, drunkenness on duty, fighting, theft, embezzlement, desertion, and insubordination had to be dealt with by post commanders. Officers, aware of their prerogatives, summarily brought charges against soldiers for failure to salute, disrespectful language, failure to execute and obey orders, etc., and insubordination was not confined to the ranks but extended to the noncommissioned officers as well. Discipline became a particular problem at garrisons after payday, when the men had money in their pockets and could secure extra liquor."
Charlie Burch said, "you lived by the rules" and they were not the same rules that a civilian had. Very few personal freedoms in regard to dress, manners, behavior, etc. Charlie said if you were an officer and bounced a check you would be bounced out of the service.
IV. THEY SERVED WITH THE POSSIBLE LOSS OF LIFE
WWII: September 1, 1939 – September 2, 1945
US dead: 407,300 - The total World War II was roughly 72 million people.
Korean War: June 25, 1950 - Full-scale fighting until an armistice on July 27, 1953
US dead: 36,516 - total - millions (as much as 2.5 mil)
Vietnam war: 1959 – April 30, 1975
US dead: 58,209 - total - 1,101,000
Gulf War or Persian Gulf War: (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991)
US dead: 148 battle-related deaths - 100,000 Iraqis
War in Afghanistan: October 7, 2001 - present
US dead: 459 - total - Between 10,000 and 20.000
War in Iraq: March 20, 2003 – present
US dead: 3,860 - total - 1,220,580
ILL.- A group of Americans, retired teachers, recently went to France on a tour. Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane.
At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on. "You have been to France before, monsieur?" the customs officer asked sarcastically.
Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously. "Then you should know enough to have your passport ready." The American said, "The last time I was here, I didn’t have to show it."
"Impossible. Americans always have to show your passports on arrival in France!"
The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained. "Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in ’44 to help liberate this country, I couldn’t find any Frenchmen to show it to."
ILL.- Linda A. Rothschiller wrote: In the early 1940’s I started first grade in a small one room school out of Carrywood, Idaho. My parents raised four of us, two girls, two boys, on a Dairy/Beef cattle ranch.
I loved going to school and one day the teacher asked us to name our favorite color and write about it. I immediately wrote down Red, White and Blue. She advised me I had to pick just one. I refused to do so.
When I left school that afternoon, I carried home a note to my parents. In it the teacher stated the problem and indicated she would like to speak to them. Since my Mother didn’t drive, that meant my Father would have to take time out in his busy day to drive to the school.
Both parents did attend . . . and I do believe it was one of the shortest Parent/Teacher conferences ever. I can remember listening to them talk.
Dad never said much but had served his time in the Navy and asked just one question. "Do you have anything against being Patriotic?"
I still refused to choose just one color . . . and to this very day, if someone asks me what my favorite color is I will say Red, White and Blue. I love our flag and what it stands for. This is the greatest country on the face of this earth. Let’s hope it always remains so.