Mourning a Soldier and a Nation

Carried in HonorsThis last week on Thursday, I attended the funeral of my great uncle Paul. He was interned in Arlington National Cemetery with full honors. I knew before I ever arrived that I would cry. The service that is rendered to our solders, sailors, airmen, and marines always moves me. The beauty and simplicity of the service and the sharpness of those carrying the casket and rendering honors is so powerful! When my grandfather died in 2003 and we attended that funeral in PA; I was moved to tears during the 21 gun salute.

After the service, I walked back to my car before my wife and kids. I needed a moment and there I sat and cried because I am so concerned for our future. I am so worried about what may come in this next election and I am worried that we will not have the moral courage and fortitude to stand for truth and righteousness. I fear that we will fail in our efforts to make America the powerful world leader it once was. That we will never be able to be the standard bearer for freedom and peace.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” ― Sun TzuThe Art of WarThis is often said in simpler words, A warrior prepares for battle hoping he never has to fight. This is best symbolized in this clip from Hero, if you have not seen this film it is a beautiful story and will help to frame the context of this clip.

I brought this up, because for several years (The Cold War), we were able to stand on principles (no matter what party the President was) and set the example and worked to provide real peace and friendship throughout the world. Now, we are mocked by many of our enemies and ridiculed by some that were once our friends. This saddens me because I know we are better than this, I know we have what it takes to stand tall and be the change we “wish to see in the world“.

There are 2 prophets in the Book of Mormon what mourn for and pray for their people Nephi (the son of Lehi) and Enos. They both prayed for and wept for their people. While I am not a leader in the political sense and the only real group I have authority over is my family, in that moment of my life; I understood in a very personal and visceral way what they must have felt. I know that we as a people have the courage, faith, and love of each other to rise above the hostilities and bigotry that has been promulgated by the media, politicians, and groups in the public eye that are more interested in getting their way than understanding others.

Louisiana and the citizens there stood tall and proud as they helped each other survive the floods … and we heard so little about it in the media … unless you got off the beaten path and find the local news for those cities or you follow a lesser known news website that covers things the MSM (Main Stream Media) likes to ignore. I have faith and hope that we can restore our virtue and honor as a nation and stand again as a beacon of hope for a lost and fallen world. We are the last great hope for humanity and if we let those who don’t believe it then we will fall down never to rise again.

iron wil

Mission Statements

I was thinking about what to write about next and I thought, “oh maybe I haven’t written about mission statements”.  After making a quick search of my posts, I realized that I had not posted about them. Mission Statements are basically the goal or vision for your life. Stephen Covey called this Habit 2, “Begin with the End in Mind“.  Many years ago, I wrote and rewrote my personal mission statement until I felt it stated what I wanted to be … it is:

“My mission is to become like Jesus Christ by an increased study of the Standard Works and by applying the principles therein, and by regular Temple attendance.

It is also to create and maintain a beautiful and meaningful relationship with my Wife and Children and to build this relationship with my Parents, Brothers, Sisters, and Extended Family. I will do this by understanding them and by teaching them about our Saviour, Jesus Christ and His gospel.

I will also increase in secular Knowledge by the Study of Languages, Great Literature, Music, Science, Nature, and History; by attending college and taking additional classes and lectures.”

While the first 2 paragraphs are my spiritual and personal life, the last deals with my world or secular knowledge growth. Something that you see is that my first priority are my relationship with my God. Second, is my family relationships. Third, is knowledge and skills.

While I don’t have statements like: “I will be loved by my family and community” or that “I will be honored by my lodge (men’s group) for all my service hours”.  I felt that if I lived a good life and a life that provided value to others, it would be enough of a ‘legacy’ that I would be proud of any accomplishments that come out of my life. Personally, I believe that whatever accomplishments come from a good life are a reflection of my Lord and God.

Now, you may not be a christian … however, from what I have learned about other faiths, many of them have a belief in doing good and sharing it with the world. for example, karma is a Buddhist and Hinduism which basically states that for every action there is a reciprocating future benefit or punishment. Even though this is not a direct christian principle, I have seen it in practice, and I believe that it a true principle.

If you want help with a mission statement, FranklinCovey has a tool. I haven’t used it, I had the book.

iron wil

The Soldiers Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster & stone.
I had come down the chimney with presents to give
And to see just who in this home did live.

I looked all about a strange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures of far distant lands.

With medals and badges, awards of all kind
A sober thought came through my mind.
For this house was different, so dark and dreary,
I knew I had found the home of a soldier, once I could see clearly.

I heard stories about them, I had to see more
So I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping silent alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one bedroom home.

His face so gentle, his room in such disorder,
Not how I pictured a United States soldier.
Was this the hero of whom I’d just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

His head was clean shaven, his weathered face tan,
I soon understood this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night
Owed their lives to these men who were willing to fight.

Soon `round the world, the children would play,
And grownups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year,
Because of soldiers like this one lying here.

I couldn´t help wonder how many lay alone
On a cold Christmas Eve in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees and started to cry.

The soldier awakened and I heard a rough voice,
“Santa don´t cry, this life is my choice;
I fight for freedom, I don´t ask for more,
my life is my God, my country, my Corps.”

With that he rolled over and drifted off into sleep,
I couldn´t control it, I continued to weep.
I watched him for hours, so silent and still,
I noticed he shivered from the cold night´s chill.

So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
And I covered this Soldier from his toes to his head.
And I put on his T-shirt of gray and black,
With an eagle and an Army patch embroidered on back.

And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
And for a shining moment, I was United States Army deep inside.
I didn´t want to leave him on that cold dark night,
This guardian of honor so willing to fight.

Then the soldier rolled over, whispered with a voice so clean and pure,
“Carry on Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all is secure.”
One look at my watch, and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend, and to all a good night!

Footnote: I wrote this poem for Christmas Eve 1993 while assigned to US Forces Korea – Lt Col Bruce W. Lovely, USAF (Printed in the Fort Leavenworth Lamp, 1995). With Apologies to Clement Moore Who First Wrote the Story for His Children in 1822 also credit given to M/Sgt Noah Brazos Ross, RA18033195, a US Army 18th Field Artillery survivor of Utah Beach, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Battle for the Ardennes, Deutschland wrote “Daddy’s Christmas” (Soldier’s Christmas)” as a Bonita, Montague County, Texas, high school exercise in 1937).