Sermon Illustrations

Reason Why Helicopter Pilot Stopped a Massacre in Vietnam

I would like to close with another quote from Thomas Long, who relates an illustration that many of us hear this morning can recall. Long writes, and I quote: “The school where I teach gave an honorary degree several years ago to a man named High Thompson. On March 16, 1968, Thompson was a young helicopter pilot flying on patrol over the countryside of Vietnam. When he and his crew flew over the village of My Lai, they saw a nightmare taking place below them. United States Army troops in Charlie Company, under the constant pressure of danger and the madness of war, had lost control of their discipline, reason, and humanity. They had begun slaughtering unarmed civilians in the village, most of them women, children, and elderly men. 504 people had already been killed.

Thompson set his helicopter down between the troops and the remaining villagers. At great risk to himself, he got out of the helicopter and confronted the officer in charge, William Calley. He than airlifted the few villagers still alive out of My Lai, and radioed a report of the scene, that resulted in a halt to their mission, thus saving thousands of innocent lives.

Standing there on the platform at the university commencement, Thompson was given the microphone, and he spoke to the question, “How could he have found the moral courage and strength to do what he did that day?” His answer surprised the audience of graduates, and brought them to a thoughtful silence.

“I’d like to thank my mother and father for trying to instill in me the difference between right and wrong,” he began. “We were country people. I was born and raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and we had very little. But one thing we did have was the Golden Rule. My parents taught me early, ‘Do unto others what you would have them do to you.’ I was raised as a Christian. That’s why I did what I did that day. Each of you are going to have to make many decisions in your life. Please make the right decisions, because we all depend on you.” Then he simply sat down.” End quote.

From a sermon by Ronald Harbaugh, Jesus Shows Us That Scripture Resisits Temptaion, 2/20/2010

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