In the '60's, I watched war movies on Saturday mornings and Combat! on Tuesday nights. After I watched enough during the week, I played war in my buddy's yard Saturday mornings. Bullets, grenades, bombs--then time for lunch. On the evening news, I would occasionally check the nightly Vietnam scoreboard and see that we were cleaning up on the Viet Cong and would surely wipe them out. I felt good when I went to bed, knowing we were beating the bad guys. Glamorous.
In the "old days," war wasn't depicted as graphically as in recent years. Now we can see heads and limbs severed and blood splattered on our local screens. On distant battlegrounds, military personnel can target a distant room and deploy a bomb, providing a kind of video-game gratification to a random observer. Results still devastating. Not so glamorous.
The truth is that flesh-and-blood men and women still wage war, and human beings die. The real heroes are the ones who willingly put their bodies in the way of unseen airborne projectiles or underground devices. As my Iwo Jima friend shared with me, soldiers do not view themselves as heroes; rather, they call themselves just that--soldiers who are doing their duties, knowing that their blood may "water" some foreign soil.
Today I join with General Douglas MacArthur who said, "The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war." Today I give thanks for those selfless souls "who more than self their country loved" and dutifully gave "the last full measure of devotion." Today I pray that the God of Peace would work in the hearts of men everywhere so that they might know true peace.