November 11, 2017, Veteran’s Day. Yes, this day we remember those living among us! However, it is also a good time to remember those who paid the ultimate price or who has “reported to duty at The Eternal Gate”.
On October 17, 2017, during Brig. Gen. Dale Hoover’s “Last Call” ceremony at the War Memorial in Amarillo, TX, the crowd was moved by the ‘Roll Call”. The speaker called the Veterans to attention, then proceeded to call some of their names out, “Corp. Joe Smith”, “Col John Jones”, and then called, “Gen Hoover”, silence. Gen. Dale Hoover, silence. Then with a loud, demanding voice, “Gen Lawrence Dale Hoover are you present?!.” One of the men spoke up, “Sir, Gen. Hoover has reported for duty at the eternal gate. Therefore, he is not among us.”
As I stood on the stage at the apex of the Vietnam Wall, the temperature was in the mid 40’s, with a heavy drizzle falling and the cold night air demanded our best and broken humility overtook us. As we trod through mud to get to the check-in station across the street, there was a solemn attitude among all. A step to the microphone was all it took to begin to read the names; the number of men who had “reported to duty at the Eternal Gate” was overwhelming. This was M25’s second time to participate in the celebration of the Vietnam Wall, in 2012 we came for the 30th Anniversary and this week for the 35th Anniversary!
Rodney McCray, fellow Mission M25 minister, traveled with me and read two nights later as people toiled through the reading of the 58,226 names, including eight women. The names were all be read before the end of the day on Friday, November 10. Another Mission M25 minister, Lee Thacker, a Vietnam Combat Veteran, read on Friday around the noon hour. It was moving as men and women, some on canes, walked to the podium and began to read their list, they would come to “and my Father” or “and my husband” or “and my best friend”, etc. It was a heart wrenching honor to be present.
Stephen Walker, aka Sgt. Rock, from Amarillo, TX is a three time Purple Heart recipient from the Vietnam War. He was to be present at the ceremony, but was sidetracked by a motorcycle wreck on November 2, 2017 in Brown Summit, NC. Rodney, aka ARod, stepped in to read the 30 names Sgt. Rock was to read. We stood at Panel 28W, had a moment of silence and laid the helmet from the motorcycle wreck below Line 35, which reads, “Lt. Stephen Doane”, a man who died saving the life of Sgt. Rock on the battlefield. Why a helmet? Why lay it when Sgt. Rock is still with us? In our hearts, we paused and thanked the sovereignty of God for sparing Sgt. Rock in Vietnam and again in Brown Summit, NC.May we never forget the sacrifice many have paid, are paying and will pay in the future, for the great freedoms we enjoy. Yes, the kingdom of God is first and foremost in our lives, however, if we lose this great country, many of our freedoms, including the freedom to worship and follow our Lord as we chose, could very well be taken from us.
HAPPY VETERANS DAY FROM MISSION M25.
This is all a continuation of the efforts throughout the year to say, “thanks” to those who stand in uniform for our freedoms. We have served Run For The Wall for thirteen years, the last twelve as hydration, chase and Chaplains. Many of our M25 Churches are having Veteran’s Day services, plus extra efforts such as banquets, motorcycle benefit rides and other ways to honor these great men and women have taken place.
Why would we do all of this? How does this “fit in our religious duties?” One of the greatest tools our Lord used to lead people to His Kingdom was sitting with and connecting to the pain in people’s lives. He took actions that was misunderstood, even looked down upon by society and the religious. He gave people the hope that someone cares and would go out of their way to show they care. Remember the story of the Good Samaritan? How many broken people have found hope and love because of this one story? We could list a host of examples of Jesus being Emmanuel (God with us) but we will conclude saying, “it is our hope that veterans will see a picture of us standing on a cold, rainy night, having traveled hundreds of miles out of our way, away from our families, to say “Thank You” and find a drop of the healing waters of our Lord because someone cares.”
photos courtesy of: M25 Ministries