Summary: This sermon was preached at a service in honor of Todd Cherry, a young member of our church who was being sent to Iraq. It looks at what being a hero and a patriot means.

We throw around the term hero far to often these days. If a man can outrun a defender to score a touchdown, or if a person can slam dunk the ball we call them a hero. If a person can get on the big screen and pretend to do something great, we call them a hero. We have so belittled the term that we don’t really know what a hero is. A hero is best defined as someone who puts their life at risk to save the life of another. Someone who is willing to give the ultimate sacrifice for the wellbeing of another. That’s a hero. That’s a soldier. That’s Todd.

Todd, you may not think of yourself in that way, but many of us do. What you are about to do you are doing for us. I’m sure you’re scared. We are to. But courage is not the absence of fear, it is going forward and doing what is right in spite of that fear. And as you prepare to go and defend this great land of ours, you are our hero, filled with courage and honor, and we want to take this opportunity to thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

In the movie Saving Private Ryan movie, it starts off with an emotional old man going to a grave yard with his family, where he begins to reminisce about his role in the second world war. The movie takes off from there and it shows how many young men laid down their lives as a sacrifice to keep Private Ryan safe, and in the end of the movie, as we are brought back to the present day, the now older Private Ryan stands at the grave of the fallen lieutenant who gave it all, and he turns to his children and says, “Tell me I’ve lived a good life.”

He had been shown the ultimate love when the ultimate gift was given to him, another one died in his place, another one laid down their life so that he could live, and when he had received such a gift, he wanted to make sure it wasn’t wasted. I think now, as Todd prepares to go across the ocean to a foreign land to fight our enemies so that they don’t come and fight us here, it’s a good time to remind ourselves of what it means to be a free person in this land and how it is that we remain free today.

When I got to my first pastorate there was there a man by the name of Clyde Campbell. Clyde was 90 years old when he died, and Clyde was a wonderful man who had a million stories he loved to tell, but the ones that always stood out to me was the ones his old war stories. Clyde was a young marine during WW2, and he was actually part of the D-day invasion. He had gotten married to his wife, and then 4 days later was sent overseas to the European Theater for the next four years. Clyde saw a number of his good friends lay down in the beaches of Normandy, never to get up. He had wounds that reminded him of that vicious day, and he spoke with the utmost admiration of his fellow soldiers who gave their life on that day. And every morning, Clyde got up at Sunrise, and he rose the flag up in his front yard and saluted it, when he was to old and feeble to do it himself, his daughter would do it for him as he sat by the window and watched. Clyde flew a flag outside his house everyday, because to Clyde that flag represented more than just the United States, it represented freedom, it represented sacrifice, it represented all those men and women who served to make this world a better place.

I salute those people like Clyde and like Todd, who are protecting us, and with many Americans, I proudly call myself a patriot. Now some might call that corny, red-neckish, or what ever, but I do love this country. I believe that God has richly blessed this nation of ours. I believe that God has a great plan and purpose for our United States. Now, that’s not to say that God hasn’t blessed other nations, or that somehow America has a monopoly of God, that’s nonsense. But what it does mean is that God has blessed this nation, with one blessing after another.

And I do believe that we do live in the greatest country of all time. You might remember the Russian comedian by the name of Yakov Smernov, his line was I love this country…he said he went to the grocery story and he saw powdered eggs, just add water and there is the eggs, then he saw powdered milk, just add water and there is milk…and then he said he saw baby powder…and he said, I love his country!

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