As I have told all of you many times before, I am a student of world history, particularly American history. I have been most fortunate to have been able to travel the globe. During all of my travels, whenever I have a chance to take some additional time and visit an historic site I always take advantage of it.
Freedom isn’t free. Freedom has a price tag.
The free counties and free societies of the world today enjoy great blessings and benefits only because someone else, at another time, was willing to give their lives, to shed their own blood, so that those coming behind them could continue to enjoy the freedoms our nation still enjoys today.
Whenever I travel to a distant or foreign land and there is a military battlefield cemetery in the vicinity, I simply have to visit this hallowed resting place so as to pay my respects and give thanks for the great personal sacrifices that these many men and women freely gave so that I and my family can still enjoy the freedoms of America. On one of my many trips to the Hawaiian Islands, I took some extra hours and visited the Punch Bowl Cemetery on the Island of Oahu near Pearl Harbor. Incorporated into the large monument near the center of the Cemetery, were many beautiful mosaic pictures and engravings on large stone columns depicting the major battle sites of World War II in the Pacific. These mosaics are so beautifully arranged and displayed in the center of the Cemetery so as to tell the story of the flow of battle across the Pacific Ocean.
I quietly recalled and considered from my knowledge and understanding, the individual battlefields and the great carnage that took place in the many land masses, islands, seas, and oceans of the world during the four year period from December 1941 through September 1945. I gazed over the acres of manicured grass absolutely covered with those little white crosses where America’s best and bravest were buried. Several poignant thoughts kept crossing and recrossing my mind…Why did these great people step forward? Why did they say “yes” in response to their call to serve their country? Why did so many of them volunteer to serve? Why did they not resist or run from the draft? Why did they so eagerly put on their uniforms and wear them so proudly? Why wasn’t there a mass protest against the war? Why didn’t we as a nation just say “we are our own country here in North America. No body is burning any people in cremation ovens here in America, or forcing people to work themselves to death for another person’s purpose or political cause. And sure, the Japanese dropped bombs on Pearl Harbor, but that’s three thousand miles away. Why don’t we just let the Japanese have that little group of islands? There are plenty of other islands in the Pacific. Let’s just let them have those Hawaiian Islands….we can find some more for ourselves later. But you see, nobody said that. Why not? Why did we Americans rise up? What motivated these citizens to join the armed forces of our country? What little spark was ignited within them? What invisible force moved them to action?
For sure the answer to those questions are many, varied, and complex,…but I certainly know what a large part of the answer is….Permit me to share it with you…
Back in the 20s, 30s, and 40s within the continental 48 States of America, people believed and behaved much differently than they do today. Back then, most people believed in a God in heaven; in a Creator of the Universe; and in a higher power in man’s life other than himself. Every Sunday morning almost everyone in each of the communities throughout America regularly attended their church of choice. Fathers and mothers took their children and went to church wherein they dedicated their children to the Lord. In that dedication, the parents would fervently pray that God would take their little child and make him or her do something wonderful and beautiful with their life all for the Glory of God; that God would assist in helping those little ones to become good Christian children, and maybe even go into the Lord’s service as a preacher or a missionary, or an active and contributing dedicated church member.
The greatest honor that could come to a father and mother would be if their child grew up and said, “Dad, Mom, I want to be a missionary. I want to become a doctor and build a hospital in Japan, in India, in Africa, in Arabia, in the Far East.”
Permit me to tell you, in the 20s, the 30s, and the 40s the real heroes in America were called missionaries. And when they finally got through college, seminary, and medical school, they packed their bags and set off for the remote parts of the world before there was penicillin, antibiotics, and readily available vaccines. The odds were that they might die of a tropical disease. They well knew that before they left America for their first assignment….But they eagerly went anyway.
Where did they go? They had a call–a call to greatness. It was the same for the many men and women who went to battle in World War II. They had a call to greatness. And after being at the punch bowl as well as many other battlefields around the world, I have a message for all people….
Do not pity the person who was killed in war. Rather, pity the person who’s alive but doesn’t have anything he would gladly die for,…for the person who has never had a call to greatness.
Greatness starts when you become aware of your own mortality, when suddenly it dawns on you that one day you are going to die. You don’t know when it will happen to you, you don’t know why or how it will happen to you, but the fact is–you’re not immortal. With that consciousness comes a thought like this: “I want to make a mark in this world–somehow, someway, somewhere.”
Greatness comes when you are consumed by a call to make a
commitment that may cost you your very life.
No person is truly alive or totally human until he or she makes a commitment to something that he or she will gladly die for. That is indeed a chariot of fire. It lifts you above the earth. It transcends the flesh and brings you into the realm of the Spirit of God.
Don’t feel sorry for those people who are buried under white crosses. Feel sorry for those who are alive and have nothing today that they would gladly die for.
Peace and Love to All of You………………….Poppa Bear