Bullets smattered the side of the truck. A surprise attack.
They were caught in the middle.
Jim jumped down from the truck bed, hit the ground hard, jamming his knee.
He bit back the pain as bullets punctured the air above him.
Shouts flew with the barrage. A scream next to him.
Was he hurt?
“Get under the truck!” Jim dove under the parked vehicle.
Ernie managed to scramble under. Uninjured, but his screams withered into uncontrollable whimpering, pleading. Panic.
Pops sounded next to Jim’s ear. The bullets could reach under the truck. Would the Germans drop bombs, too?
They weren’t safe.
Ernie went to pieces, still squirming and weeping. Didn’t cover his head or protect his body. Seemed crazy enough to make a run for it.
The shots grew louder, closer.
Jim crawled to Ernie and moved on top of him, covering the panicked soldier with his own body.
If one of them had to die today, it wouldn’t be Ernie.
This scene is from World War II. And, while I’ve dramatized some thoughts and details, it’s true. I know because my grandpa told me.
I’ve changed the names, since Grandpa valued his privacy, but he’s the soldier I’ve called Jim. The one who risked his life to save a vulnerable man. The one who stared violence and death in the face without flinching.
Wartime becomes the stage for many such displays of heroism, of fearlessness in the face of tremendous adversity. Memorial Day is set aside to honor such heroes, those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom and safety and the protection of others. For what is good and right.
My grandpa didn’t want to go to war. He was drafted at the age of eighteen. If he went to war he would leave behind not only his loving parents, but also his sweetheart, the woman he intended to marry.
My grandpa was a gentle man, an animal lover and sweet soul who was horrified at anything remotely violent. The idea of having to kill a human being was sickening to him.
Yet he didn’t dodge the draft. He didn’t run from his own possible death or the call to fight. He obeyed the call and followed the orders of the Army. In training, his superiors noticed he had natural marksmanship abilities, so he was given special sharpshooter training.
Aside from the story shared here, I know little of my grandpa’s experiences in WWII. For most of my childhood, though forty plus years after his wartime experience, he didn’t want to speak of the war. About twenty more years later, he finally showed a willingness to share a few stories if directly asked.
One thing he still never wished to speak of was the violence. I learned that he had killed enemy soldiers and that he’d seen his comrades die. That was all he would say.
When my grandpa came home from the war, I’m sure he was changed. He was at least haunted by the memories of what he’d seen and done in battle. But he was still a gentle soul, a kind man of responsibility, honor, and loyalty.
I often wonder, how could my peaceful grandpa have had the courage to face such terror without breaking down? How could he, especially at such a young age, have overcome any fear he might have had in order to fight the war?
The answer is no doubt complex, but the simplest part of the answer is this: he knew he was doing the right thing. Like many in his generation, my grandpa was raised with a belief in God. I don’t know that he was a Christian when he was young, but he was brought up with the Bible-based understanding of morality, good and evil, duty, and integrity that once undergirded our nation.
Like the Israelites who fought for God’s purpose in the Bible, most in my grandpa’s generation of Americans were raised with the principles outlined in Proverbs 24:10-12:
If you faint in the day of adversity,
your strength is small.
Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?
My grandpa and so many others like him who went to war could do so because they knew they were doing the right thing. They had a conviction that it was right to fight against an evil so terrible as the violent ideology that drove the Nazis and Japanese of that era. They were certain it was right to defend the Jews, the British civilians, and others who were being tortured and killed. They knew it was right to defend their loved ones and nation from such evil.
That conviction was so deep and strong that it enabled my grandpa and brave soldiers like him to overcome their fears. Or, in some cases, to become fearless.
As I’ve said before on this blog, you and I are in a war. Every day, we face a battle against the evil one and his minions. He wants to lead us to sin against God in many ways, but for us fear warriors, many of our most crucial conflicts are waged on the battlegrounds of fear.
If we want to win those battles, we have to know and remember that we are on the side of right. When we fight against worry, phobias, or stress in our lives, we are doing what God has called us to do. He is for us.
We will win this battle. We will have the victory against the evil of fear in our lives.
May we always honor and remember those in our armed forces who sacrificed to fight evil in this world.
And may we always fearlessly fight the spiritual battle against evil here at home with the conviction that we are on the side of right, and the guarantee that we will win.
Are you honoring a special military hero today? What have you learned about fighting fear from military heroes? Please share!
To celebrate Memorial Day, I’m giving away one print copy of Ronie Kendig’s Nightshade (Discarded Heroes #1)! Leave a comment for a chance to win! (Winner randomly selected June 5; continental U. S. address only.)
This former Navy SEAL is fighting a new battle…the homefront.
Former Navy SEAL Max Jacobs is one such hero, and now his war is for his family. Post-traumatic stress disorder, brought on from his times in battle, has ravaged his emotions. Rage explodes out of him with no warning and it’s destroying his marriage.
All his wife Sydney wants is the man she married back. But he’s lost, buried deep beneath his anger. Sydney files for separation and throws herself into her work as a journalist.
But when Sydney hunts down the soldiers behind a string of heroic interventions, she starts getting death threats. Finding the perfect ending for her story might get her perfectly killed. Max realizes what Sydney has entangled herself in and will stop at nothing to save her, but even he might not be able to rescue her from a world of intrigue and danger that she cannot imagine.