Commentary by Michael VandenBurg
Last week, we celebrated Veterans Day, and on Monday that week, I had the privilege of honoring the men and women who have served in the various branches of the military with a breakfast provided by the Benjamin Harrison YMCA.
I heard Brigadier General (Ret.) J. Stewart Goodwin of the USAF and currently the Executive Director of the Indiana War Memorials Commission speak. He told the largely active and veteran military audience that they needed to stop answering the question of what they did in the military with the phrase, “I was only a …”. He rightly pointed out that there are no, “only” positions, in that it takes the efforts of every last soldier to complete the job the military is given to carry out. Without the cooks, the military would starve. Without the laundry the men and women would constantly march with dirty uniforms. Without the supply units, the “beans and bullets” would never get to the front lines where they needed them.
A friend of mine, Major (Ret.) Walter Giffen served during World War II in Europe. He was part of the Quartermaster Corp that kept the supply lines flowing so that our soldiers could and would win the battles at places like Normandy, Omaha Beach, Paris, London, Berlin, etc. At 98 years old, I simply can’t imagine Walter as ever having been an “only” anything. He is the picture of the perfect soldier, ready to give his all in whatever task he is given and never look for the praise or honor, but only the service. Walter will always come to mind when I think of those men and women who give their all, without being mindful of, “what’s in it for me”.
Jesus told his followers that they too were to serve others, sacrificially if need be, without expectation that it would somehow benefit them. They were to give their lives in the service of the Lord, simply out of the honor there came in serving Christ. Hundreds of thousands, men and women, do just that today, not looking for the glory, but just to carry out the master’s orders, to “love one another, as I have loved you”. For these servants of Christ, I stand in honor, even as I did for the soldiers we honored in service to our country. I too have heard servants of Christ answer the question as to what they do for Christ saying simply, “I am only…”. I concur with General Goodwin. Christ has given each of us a purpose and a calling and we should honor that calling by standing proud of the job we are doing in his name.
I hope you took the opportunity to honor those you know who have served our country, fought to secure our freedoms and gave their lives for their love of all of us. As well, I hope you will take the opportunity to thank those who serve Christ faithfully with their service to you and the community. I suspect that in many cases, you will be thanking the same persons.
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. (John 15)