The Bible says it like this: "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." – John 15:13.
In other words, if you want to see real love in action, look at a man who gives himself for his friends. When I think of that verse, I think of the brave men and women throughout history who have set aside their lives, donned the military fatigues, and went to battle to fight for the interests of our great country. Many didn’t come back. They spilled their blood on the battlefields all over the world.
I think of my own grandfather. He passed a few years ago, but his memories are still with us. Grandpa was a valiant man, a product of the Great Depression and World War II, part of what Tom Brokaw so accurately described as "The Greatest Generation." I’m not sure they make people like Grandpa anymore. He grew up in Chicago. His mother emigrated from Poland and raised her children by herself. Grandpa never knew anyone who owned a car. They literally had no money. He would ride the backs of milk trucks and delivery cars to go to the butcher to buy liver that was going to be thrown out. But people in Grandpa’s generation didn’t complain. He often said to me, "Dan, we didn’t know what we didn’t have. We had a good life."
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Grandpa enlisted in the Army. He didn’t want to mess with being drafted. He want to have some control over his destiny. Grandpa served for years in the Phillipines as a tank commander.
How I loved Grandpa. He had a lifetime of wisdom and wit. He was content in any situation. He loved his family and worked hard to support them. He sold cars in the city of Chicago. He often let us come to the showroom and climb in the new cars.
When Grandpa passed, it left a hole in our hearts that remains today.
Grandpa was just one of many veterans who gave their lives. I think of others like my friend Tim who served in Vietnam. I think of Jim, an elder in our church who served in the Navy during WWII. I think of my own brother, Tim, who served in this latest Iraq War.
Most of us go about our lives, living in the greatest country on earth, oblivious to the fact that thousands of our fellow countrymen are sweating it out on some desert or in training or in a foreign land. They do it for love of country. We owe them a lot.
Not all veterans are perfect. Not all soldiers are saints. Nobody is saying that. But on this day what we are saying is this. Let’s take a step back and give them an extra measure of gratitude for their service.