Eeyore, Memorial Day and You

I heard a great line in church yesterday! (There’s a statement you probably don’t read very often!) The pastor made the comment that sometimes “We Eeyore our way through life.” It’s a kind of a hum drum, thanks for noticing me, existence. About as electrifying a personality as one can have! The guy who’s like our friend Eeyore attracts people to him in droves just to see where he got what he got so they can get some too! Not!

Today, Memorial Day 2017, we honor the memory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice by dying for the cause that is the United State of America. One website that has been tracking those numbers, but remains several years behind, shows the total of Americans killed as a direct result of enemy action to be more than 821,813 (http://www.americanwarlibrary.com/allwars.htm) That number, which is a low estimate, includes the 44 people of Flight 83, September 11, 2001. When they all agreed to “Let’s Roll” they weren’t saying it in an Eeyore tone of voice!

Another non-Eeyore soldier, who was not KIA but died years later in a fateful small aircraft crash in Virginia, was Audie Murphy. Only 19 when he entered the U.S. Army (the Navy and Marines rejected him), he served with the 3rd Infantry and rose to the rank of first lieutenant. He was initially given a field promotion to second lieutenant before he was twenty-years-old. Audie Murphy remains the most decorated U.S. soldier of all time with 33 medals including the Medal of Honor. Most of those he was awarded before he was 21 years of age. His Congressional Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:

This Citation was awarded to Audie Murphy for “Conspicuous Gallantry and Intrepidity Involving Risk of Life Above and Beyond the Call of Duty In Action With the Enemy”, 26 January 1945. The citation reads:

2d Lt. Murphy commanded Company B, which was attacked by 6 tanks and waves of infantry. 2d Lt. Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to prepared positions in a woods, while he remained forward at his command post and continued to give fire directions to the artillery by telephone. Behind him, to his right, 1 of our tank destroyers received a direct hit and began to burn. Its crew withdrew to the woods. 2d Lt. Murphy continued to direct artillery fire which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, 2d Lt. Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer, which was in danger of blowing up at any moment, and employed its .50 caliber machine gun against the enemy. He was alone and exposed to German fire from 3 sides, but his deadly fire killed dozens of Germans and caused their infantry attack to waver. The enemy tanks, losing infantry support, began to fall back. For an hour the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminate 2d Lt. Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad which was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank. Germans reached as close as 10 yards, only to be mowed down by his fire. He received a leg wound, but ignored it and continued the single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way to his company, refused medical attention, and organized the company in a counterattack which forced the Germans to withdraw. His directing of artillery fire wiped out many of the enemy; he killed or wounded about 50. 2d Lt. Murphy’s indomitable courage and his refusal to give an inch of ground saved his company from possible encirclement and destruction, and enabled it to hold the woods which had been the enemy’s objective.

 

That was no Eeyore on top of that tank destroyer! Eeyore on tank destroyer

Murphy, who became an actor and played himself in the movie, To Hell and Back, suffered from what we would call today, PTSD. With fits of rage, insomnia and nightmares, it is said he slept with a loaded 1911 45 under his pillow.

Murphy is quoted as saying, “Lead from the front” and “Freedom is what America means to the world.”

As for his character, one quote speaks volumes, “I never liked being called the “most decorated” soldier. There were so many guys who should have gotten medals and never did–guys who were killed.”

CMH recipients buried at Arlington usually have their markers inscribed with gold-leaf. Murphy asked that his remain plain. Suffering as he did from PTSD, Audie Murphy “campaigned vigorously for the government to spend more time and money on taking care of returning Vietnam War veterans, as he more than most others knew exactly what kinds of problems they were going to have.” (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001559/bio)

I did not choose Lt. Audie Murphy because he was such a highly decorated soldier nor because he was a movie actor. I chose him because he was like most of the heroes we celebrate on Memorial Day, young, (Murphy just 19 when he held off the German assault troops), from poor families, and scared to death but doing the job anyway. They had a vision for something bigger than themselves. Perhaps their faith, their family; but certainly, their love of country was a driving factor.

Today we salute the memories of these brave men and women and we honor the Gold Star families across this great land. There isn’t a single Eeyore in the lot!

American flag Gold Star POWMIA

A Clash of Cultures

A small metal sign… drove home to me the hundreds of years of sacrifice, grief, pain and pride, (yes, pride) that the sign represents.

Riggs Ministry Minute: When there’s only a minute for ministry   

www.docriggs.com  

 

Most of us might be surprised at the vast number of sub-cultures within our own culture. Some would consider the point so off-handedly that, even if these subcultures exist, all that is necessary is to be aware of them, nothing more. We certainly do not need another genre for which we must be politically correct. Already the current lists have made it to the far edges of ad-nauseum. Why belabor yet another category that seeks to be recognized, romanticized, eulogized, and deified?

This, however, is a culture that has been with us since the beginning of our great country, indeed throughout the history of civilization. Yet, the American version of this culture is one that does not seek recognition. Most of the time, this culture prefers to be unnoticed. A simple tip of the hat in recognition of their sacrifice is enough because there is little our supra-culture can do. Perhaps the only way to benefit this culture is to keep the virtue of our American culture at its very best.

Regrettably, I have been as little mindful of this sub-culture as most others, at least until recently. Recent events have driven home to me their existence. It was not in some grandiose presentation that I was pricked at my conscience, nor was it at some hall of heritage that I was alerted to their presence. It was, of all things, a small sign in the parking lot of a grocery store. I had never seen such a sign before and unless any American has a chance to go shopping at a PX or BX (post or base exchange) on a military installation, you will probably never see one yourself. A small metal sign that drove home to me the hundreds of years of sacrifice, grief, pain and pride, (yes, pride) that the sign represents.

The sign simply read: “Reserved Parking Gold Star Families” and reading it I was struck with such a sense of astonishment. I was astounded that I had never given so much as a passing thought to the thousands of families that carry on in day to day life, after the ceremonies, after the condolences, after the cards and visits have stopped. The ‘Gold Star’ families, those who have lost someone in combat, keep on with life, with shopping at the PX, with bills and car repairs and every day with a hole in their heart where a loved one, a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine lives now as a memory.

Praise God for Gold Star Families and may we be reminded of them every day. When we are, may we ask God to bless them as they carry on, living a life Reserved for Gold Star Families.

(For more information about the history behind the Gold Star, follow the link to Gold Star Mothers)

Our family proudly displays a ‘Blue Star’ emblem in our front window and a similar decal on my wife’s car. Praise God that it is now a Blue Star and if God should ordain that it ever be Gold, may we honor the work of these proud families with our own.