I have two nephews enlisting in the military soon. One, my sister’s son, is a native of Ethiopia. He was adopted into the family almost 10 years ago. One of the most upbeat, outgoing young men you’ll ever meet.
The other nephew, my brother-in-law’s youngest, is a sweet and kind spirit – soft-spoken, but never at a loss for words.
Both boys I can still picture in superhero pajamas and sitting on their momma’s lap. Both boys, now grown young men, are making a decision that will change their lives and ultimately protect many others.
Though I don’t have a military background and only know of a few ancestors who served in the military, I could not be more proud of these two. Their bold decisions to step out and serve their country are inspirational.
It’s got me to thinking about the few who sacrifice so much to allow all of us the extraordinary freedoms we experience in this country.
Just the other day I was reading the story of John Robert Fox, an African American soldier who fought in World War II. He was born in Cincinnati in 1915, attended Wilberforce University, and finished his schooling with a graduate degree and the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
In 1944 Fox, with the 366th Infantry Regiment of the 92nd Infantry Division, was fighting Nazi troops in Italy. While many of his fellow soldiers had been forced to retreat, Fox willingly stayed behind in a small village near Tuscany. He secured himself a spot on the second floor of a house and hid, but eventually the village was overrun by Nazis.
The day after Christmas, German troops were firing heavily upon the town and Fox radioed in the artillery close to his position. When the operator questioned him, thinking he’d had a lapse in judgment, Fox confirmed his request with, “Fire it. There’s more of them than there are of us.”
By ordering a barrage of fire on his exact position, Fox gave the remaining U.S. forces a chance to retreat and regroup. By sacrificing his very life, he gave his fellow soldiers a fighting chance.
In 1997, Fox was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his “gallant and courageous actions at the supreme sacrifice of his own life.” Though I never knew Lt. John Robert Fox, I am astounded by the price he paid to care for his fellow man and for a country he loved.
Another sacrifice that not only amazes me, but has humbled me and changed my life forever, is that of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 2 spells it out clearly starting in verse 6: “Although He (Jesus) existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Jesus gave up His very life so that I might live. So that any who call upon His name might live.
Though He never received the Medal of Honor, Jesus did receive a reward.
Philippians 2:9-11 states “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed upon Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Do you enjoy the freedoms we experience in this country? The freedom to worship, to educate your children, and to parent as you choose? The freedom to care for your family and do the things that make you happy?
If you do, take a minute to thank a soldier. If not for their sacrifice, we would be held captive.
Do you know freedom from sin? The freedom to have an open, honest relationship with a God who loves you and wants the best for you?
If you don’t, you can by trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
If you do already know Him, take a minute to thank Him and tell others what His sacrifice has meant in your life.
Sherry Weller is Executive Director of New Life Clinic in Wilmington.
This weekly column is provided to the News Journal on a monthly rotation basis by members of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association.