Sunday, November 22, 2009
Talking to Heroes
Dodging through the raindrops, my family and I ran from the truck to the church. I entered the building and allowed a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to the light. I found myself standing right inside the sanctuary, having taken a side door. It wasn’t long before the whole family worked their way to a pew.
After finding a seat, I went around to shake hands with folks. One elderly gentleman welcomed me to the service, and I turned to shake someone else’s hand when something on his lapel caught my eye. It was two tiny bars, one was purple and the other blue with a small white patch in the middle.
“What are those?” I asked, pointing to the lapel pins.
“Oh, the purple one is a Purple Heart, and the blue one is the Navy Cross,” he replied nonchalantly, smiling. My face must have registered my shock, and he went on, explaining what I correctly assumed. “The Navy Cross is the highest service medal to be awarded, other than the Congressional Medal of Honor.” I think he said more, but my mind was racing with the significance of such an honor.
Only 6,924 Navy Cross Awards have been given since Congress authorized it in 1919. As a combat-only award, it is higher than the Distinguished Service Medal, and has often been awarded posthumously.
It always amazes me to be in the presence of a World War II veteran, but I was completely grateful for the privilege of meeting such a hero.
Though our exchange was brief, my mind was reeling for hours. I thought of the many gallant people I have talked to over the years, and how very humbling it is to talk to them. Soon, however, my mind went to some other heroes I have known, many without any earthly honor at all.
I think of the man who is also in his eighties, and has pastured now for almost forty-five years. Remaining faithful to his family and his Lord against all odds and pressure, he is still standing strong and tall on the Word of God. He and his wife are a delight to talk to, because they are so full of the joy of the Lord. He is truly a hero, serving the Lord through a lifetime.
I think of the dear elderly sisters I have spent many an hour with, talking of the greatness of our Saviour. It’s been years since I’ve seen them, and one of them has gone on to be with the Lord, while the other is in a nursing home. Years ago, when my husband and I asked them how it came to be that they had never gotten married, one of them smiled and replied, “Well, our mother was very sick – bedridden. We decided we were going to take care of our mother, and we did.” They took care of their invalid mother for years and years, until all suitors had come and gone. They willingly gave up their future to care for someone else. In my book, they are heroes.
Then there are the mothers of young children, who have given up their dreams of careers or desires for fancy things while they spend their time wiping runny noses and changing diapers. They see the investment in the future, and are willing to pay whatever the price is to accomplish it. Though no medal awaits them, and no crowd will applaud them, they are still heroes.
Thank you, heroes, for all you do and have done!