Looking back, I think it was the only time I saw my granddad cry. Late one evening in the spring of 2002, I walked into his house and found him seated on his outdated cigarette-burned sofa. The only light in that dimly lit den was the glare from the TV reflecting off my grandfather’s face revealing a steady stream of tears. He quickly cleared his throat and then beckoned me to take a seat next to him. “War is hell, Johnson.” He had been watching old World War II footage on the History Channel and I can only assume his mind was racing back to the days that shaped his early 20’s and defined his generation.
My grandfather, MG, seldom spoke about his experience as a sergeant in the 102nd Infantry division. Though often prodded by his grand kids, he rarely offered even the slightest bit of detail on the horrors he faced while fighting Hitler and his Third Reich.
Like many men of that great generation, my grandfather saw it as a matter of duty to leave the only home he knew.
To fight on foreign soil for the country that he dearly loved. He willingly faced the hellish nightmares of ground combat simply because he loved his country and saw it as his duty to protect her. Love meant war even though war was hell.
Related Post: Life Summarized in One Blog Post: Live, Love, and Learn
To the outside world, the only visible evidence of my grandfather’s history-making early years was the license plate on his Buick LeSabre. It simply read “Purple Heart Wounded Veteran.” The drivers that passed him on the road had no clue. No clue what he had endured for his countrymen a lifetime ago. Sadly, most of the stories behind that Purple Heart died with my granddad in May of 2005.
Though imperfect in character, my grandfather is the best man that I ever knew.
His life stands as a beacon pointing me to the greatest man who ever lived. He was a Man who loved people so much that He willingly faced the hellish nightmares of the wrath of God on their behalf. He was a Man who saw it as His God-ordained duty to protect the ones He loved. Protect them from the eternal effects of sin and death. Love meant war even though that war, for Christ, meant a Roman cross pressed firmly into enemy soil. For the Son of God, love was war and His war was hell.
This Veteran’s day, take time to reflect on the sacrifice of those who fight for the sake of our freedoms. Yet in doing so, let it always point you to the One who offered up the greatest sacrifice of all. Thank God for soldiers like my granddad and praise God for Jesus.