(This speech was delivered at the Memorial Day Service in Armour, SD on May 31, 2010 in front of a crowd of about 400. I thank God for the honor and privilege to do so.)
THE AMERICAN SOLDIER—THE UNSUNG HERO
With your permission, I would like to ask any person who has served in any branch of our armed forces to kindly stand up and be recognized. Please join me as we honor them and thank the Lord for their services to this great nation. (Please be seated).
September 11, 2001 was a terrible day in the history of our nation. It ranks right up there with December 7, 1941, which is a date that will live in infamy. These dates are in the “team picture” of terrible events that have marred the history of our country. In this picture are events like the assassination of Presidents, natural disasters and explosions of space shuttles. These are the kind of moments that bring us back to understand that we are mortal. They shake us to the core. They remind us that the life we live is not fully ours. For events like these, everyone alive at the time remembers what they were doing; and where they were when they happened.
But at the same time these horrible events also have some “silver lining” blessings. One of those silver linings that came out of 9/11 was the appreciation for the “unsung hero.” It was there for the first time in a long time the people of our nation appreciated those nameless faces that make a habit of running in when every other sane human being is running out. The single day in history when more firefighters, police officers and EMT’s died in the line of duty. On that day, too, all of our military personal—Navy Seals, Air-force pilots, Marines, Army and National Guard soldiers were called upon to protect our shores, our borders and air space against the tyranny that was attacking us. These events caused a nation to reflect and thank God for those who do those “unsung” heroic things that make sure that life and liberty, people and property, church and community are protected.
The unsung heroes of our nation go back more than a decade, even more than a century, all the way back to the founding: the American Revolution. The American Revolution was a movement of unsung heroes. Our nation won two World Wars by the efforts of unsung heroes that went by the names of G.I Joe and Rosie the Riveter. And all this happens even to this day. Nameless faces still serve in those underappreciated and yet necessary tasks that make our homes, communities and world safe!
It is the American Soldier who rises up and wears the uniform and stand sentry to make sure that our borders and buildings, our homes and hearts are protected against the evil foe. And who is the American Soldier? The Average age of our solider is 20 ½ years old. He/she is the brightest and the best of our nation. He/she is tall or short. He is a man or a woman. He is your father; mother, brother, sister, cousin, nephew and niece. He/she is a volunteer. They are many but an army of one. Some of them you know and others you don’t. But it is the American Solider the unsung hero who makes it possible for us to live in freedom. You know that there are no freedoms, without those willing to fight for them. And our American Solider has been fighting to keep Freedom alive ever since the inception of this nation. PAUSE.
Benny Hochman a Nazi concentration camp survivor in his book From Hell To Here stated: “I love the American Soldier for all that he stands for…” How right he is. The American Soldiers are fearless men and women who put on the uniform every day to make freedom possible. He/she is a soldier, sailor, airman, guardsman and marine. He can use his body like a weapon and his weapon as part of his body. He can take a life or he can save a life because he has been so remarkably well trained. And when the soldier wears the uniform and leaves homes, he/she knows they are is not going on a vacation, but rather into harms way, into a mortal combat; knowing full well that some of them will not return home.
I, as a former foreigner but proud to be an American citizen, know the meaning of that word and how precious FREEDOM is. The American Soldier this unsung hero leaves family, home, community and church and heads off to distant land to keep freedom alive. It is the American Solider the unsung hero that we honor today.
You will find the American Soldier serving both at home and abroad: You will find them throughout our land staking sandbags to stop flooding, rescuing people from tornados and hurricanes or building bridges to name a few. But they do more; they liberated many from the concentration camps in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. They protected many in Lebanon and Egypt. They fought in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan and other places. The American Soldier has been standing up for Freedom ever since the founding of this great nation. Today, we the new generation ought to Stand up for Freedom: It is worth fighting for.
Sometimes we forget that freedom is everyone’s responsibility. You never know how precious it is until you lose it. My hope and prayer is that the sacrifices borne by so many.........will spawn and fulfill the promise of this great nation. A nation, that rose from the ashes of the Revolutionary War and became the mighty symbol of freedom for the whole world. A nation born with the sweat and blood of fearless young men and young women who fought to keep our flag flying high. A nation that continues to raise up mighty, massive, moving men and women who are willing to sacrifice limb and life for its liberty. No wonder this is the greatest nation in the world. You ought to be proud of it. You ought to bleed for it. You ought to die for it. Is it any wonder that many people want to come and live here?
I came to this country at age 16 to seek a better life. Some of you among us here today have done the same. Some of your parents or grandparents left everything and crossed the ocean to make a new life—a life that is possible because of the American Soldier the Unsung Hero. PAUSE.
Travel to New York Elis Island and you will see the great symbol of Freedom—Lady Liberty. On the platform of Lady Liberty are these words: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me”. What makes it possible for the masses, the poor and destitute to come to our shores? The American Soldier the Unsung Hero.
But if you want to see the GREATEST Symbol of Freedom, this is not found in the American Flag or Lady Liberty in New York; instead travel to Calvary, and see the cross towering high above all. On that cross, the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled His Words “Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends”. (John 15:13). Jesus willingly laid down His life to free us from the tyranny of the Evil Foe-Satan, and death and hell. That is what it means to be free indeed. And that is why all the masses are welcomed into His bosom. PAUSE.
Young people, and some you who are not so young, the next time you see an American Soldier walk up to him/her and thank them for serving our nation. When you see the stars and stripes raised high salute it. This is the symbol of a nation made free. I, as your speaker can not force you to do these things. I can not command you to obey me. But I hope that you listen and listen well.
This nation is worth fighting for. This nation has given you a hope and a home. This nation is a nation that stands for the poor and hungry, the downtrodden and destitute. It is our privilege and responsibility to fight to keep freedom alive. It is not just the American Soldier’s responsibility but every American Citizen because this is our nation- The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. PAUSE.
Permit me to introduce you to one of these Heroes: Richard Naasz, the father of a Pastor friend of mine Terry Naasz (from Brookings, SD). He was a quiet man of medium height, and looking at him you would never suspect he was a hero. But he was twice combat wounded, both times severely, and he stated that as a sergeant, he refused a battlefield commission to be a lieutenant, which would have taken him off the front lines, because he promised his men he would get them home alive. America’s real heroes don’t flaunt what they do; they quietly go about their day to day lives, doing what they do best. They earned our respect and the freedoms that we all enjoy. Look around and see if you can find one of those heroes in your midst. Often, they are the ones you’d least suspect, but would most like to have on your side if anything ever happed. This genteel and quiet family man didn’t even share this information with his family; until the pastor who preached his funeral sermon informed them about it. Richard would never speak of his experiences and people never knew how long he served on the front lines (for over a hundred days) but it was because of unsung heroes like Richard Naasz that we won WWII.
Every American citizen is blessed because he is protected and represented by our brightest and best—the American Soldier the Unsung Hero. For all of us here are Americans. This is what we do as Americans—rise to the task before us. We care for the needs of our people, protect them, and provide them the best that life can offer. We ought to be proud of this nation. I am sick and tired of people who complain about this country. If you don’t like this country THEN LEAVE. We should thank the Lord, Jesus Christ every day that we live here.
We should thank every day the Lord Jesus Christ, whom the Bible says, is the Mediator of every good gift—including the precious gift of freedom (1Timothy 2:5). Memorial Day is a time to remember the noble sacrifices behind our freedom. Won’t you, then, today, join me in thanking God for the American Soldier the Unsung Hero today? I hope you always do. For after all, the freedom and the liberty we have, has been born on the wings of these unsung heroes our fearless men and women. Some are with us today, while others have sacrificed their lives so that you can be gathered here and celebrate the freedoms, rights, and blessings of our beloved land—The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
Thank you and God bless you all.
Will you please join me in a word of prayer?
Heavenly Father, today we remember those who have served our country with honor and devotion, especially those who have given their lives. We praise You for all the blessings that we enjoy as a result of their sacrifice, including peace, liberty, security, and the freedom we have to worship You. We implore you to keep our young brave men and women who are serving today safe and bring them home to their loved ones soon. We also, ask You to use us as Your instruments of peace and love as we serve You and others. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.