Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

November 2, 2010

First Casualties

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

The prime years of my life were shadowed by two conflicts involving the United States.  The first was known as the Korean Conflict, but at least history now records it as a war —  which it was!  The other was Vietnam.

Both of these engagements employed many of my peers.  Some of them were drafted, while others volunteered.  These friends served well.  When they were home on furloughs, the experiences both excited and saddened those of us who listened.

For a young man, military service can be an adventure.  When it comes to the actual conflict, some face the challenge with a sense of adventure, while others with the realization it can cost them their life.  Whatever be the emotion, all face it with courage and bravery.

I recall the reality of war as I would deal with some that I knew personally that would never return home.  My first dealing with the loss of a friend in the military came as a senior in high school.  One from our small town had enlisted to become a Navy pilot.  I remember his excitement at the anticipation of learning to fly.  Yet, his commitment was more than learning to fly . . . it was the desire to contribute what he could to the resolution in Korea.

With excitement, he began his flight training in Pensacola.  I recall his coming home during those days.  Although he was several years older than I, we knew one another well, not only because of the small town connections, but he had worked for my father in the family business as a teenager.

My friend never got to know the face of conflict in Korea.  He was killed when his trainer went down off the coast of Florida.  Yet, his bravery and desire matched those who would be a part of the resolution in Korea.  But, his death brought to my heart the recognition of the casualties of war.  As we fellows would talk of the war and of our friend’s death, the youthful expression of the glamour of war faded.  The casualty brought a soberness to us that was a contribution to our acknowledging the price some must pay for defending our land as well as aiding those who need to be free.

Some ten or so years later, I would experience another casualty . . . this time in Vietnam. This young man was from our church, and enlisted in the Navy.  His desire was to stand with America in supporting the rights of others to be free.  He proudly wore the uniform, and on his furloughs, brought joy to those who knew him . . . and a special pride to his mother.

It was a difficult day when the news came.  He had been assigned to one of the gunboats patrolling one of the main rivers in Vietnam.  With no opportunity for defense, the gunboat was destroyed and all the crew likewise.  There would be no body to be returned.  The reality of war pressed upon the community, and a soberness spread over the congregation.  There seemed to be little excitement among the other young men that had perhaps considered joining the military. 

My heart has never been the same since I dealt with these first casualties of war.  Yet, my heartache could never compare, nor can I truly identify, with those spouses, children, parents, and relatives that had to deal with the personal loss.  I believe that all who have related in some ways to such loss of life can easily exclaim, “I hate war.”  And rightly so!

Certainly, our God grieves over such loss.  He never desires war . . . the destruction of life . . . and the grief and sorrow that families experience.  Yet, our Heavenly Father is there for all.  I do recall the strength and courage of the families of these I knew so well.  I knew they were people of faith, but during such a difficult time, their faith was real . . . and sufficient.

Again, whatever sorrow comes into our lives, our God is there for us.  May we be people of such faith that we discover His grace and presence is adequate.

“My grace is sufficient for you.”  2 Corinthians 12:9)

Lawson

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