No man dies for his country.
Forget about it.
It doesn’t happen.
Despite what the powers that be, the forces that shape attitudes and opinions in our country, would have you believe, patriotism only gets you so far. At some point, the glaring red rockets fade, the bombs no longer burst, and Old Glory falls limp in the dwindling breeze.
Patriotic fervor may drive a man to sacrifice…to a point.
Yet, no man dies for his country.
He may fight for it.
Why Fight (part I)
I’ve fought for our country, certainly.
It’s a train wreck. A dumpster fire. A disaster. Still I’ve fought.
Daily our country marches deeper into godlessness, abandoning the very foundation of the fabric of our society. Some cling desperately, but in vain, to a fading ethic. Others cling to the outworking of the Source, while denying the Source itself. “Righteousness” apart from He who is righteous, is no less godless than the outright rebellion of those who openly reject God.
America is a post-Christian nation, and has been for some time.
Still I fight.
America systematically slaughters the unborn to the tune of more than 60 million to date. Convenience and the abandonment of the biblical sexual ethic drives the slaughter. Can you imagine the deception of mothers fighting for the right to murder their babies? Still I’ll fight.
America defies the Creator and His created order at every turn. We reject the basic tenets of reality. Who could’ve foreseen pervasive gender confusion, this Orwellian idea that I can “identify” as whatever I like? God speaks early and clear, “Male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27) How could we have anticipated the normalization of sin and the desecration of even marriage. I must actually stipulate when talking about it…a union between one man and one woman. Sheesh.
Still I’ll fight.
We don’t normalize sin, we celebrate it…and you must too. Tolerance is not an acceptable middle-ground. We won’t accept a you-do-you-and-I’ll-do-me compromise. Nope. Not gonna work. We demand acclaim, not acquiescence. Laud them. Shower them with praise. Give them awards. Revere their courage. This is the only acceptable end-state.
Our nation sits under the judgement of God in our collective resolve to worship and serve the created thing rather than the Creator.
Our nation sits divided by an impossible ideological chasm, several of them actually. Yet, many remain convinced of God’s favor, a lingering manifest destiny that ignores the reality that America will one day be but a footnote in the salvation history of men.
And I’d fight again. It’s my country after all.
Why Fight (Part II)
Where else you gonna go?
Granted, my world travels have taken me to quite a few garden spots around the globe, but I remain convinced of America’s greatness and why? My family lives here, for starters.
I don’t know much about the rest of the world, but I do love this nation. I just don’t like what she’s becoming. It’s not a sin, you know, to love your country. I love biscuits and gravy and country music. I love that we actually have tractor pulling contests. I love our great cities and vast countryside. I love that English spoken in rural Louisiana might not sound anything like English spoken in Boston.
I love the idea of America, the great hope she embodies. I love the American dream, that if I work hard I can become whatever I set out to be. I cherish rugged American individualism.
For all her flaws, all her warts, all her imperfections, I remain convinced of America’s greatness. Perhaps I’m biased.
But I’d fight for her again.
No matter your thoughts upon America’s greatness, wicked men conspire for her destruction. Evil men plot continuously to visit their destructive beliefs upon our families, our neighborhoods, our society and we have a choice, either stand opposed or yield. They’ll not relent.
I have fought, willingly, and would do so again.
Many others also may fight for their country.
No man dies for it. It’s much deeper than that.
Why Die (Part I)
I’ve never felt more alive than when marching lock-step into combat with my brothers.
The gruff, guttural chorus of engines coming on line. The whirring rotors. The driving sand. The airframes trembling in anticipation as the throttles are advanced to fly. The boys loading up, casually climbing aboard as if they were not about to descend from the dark sky onto the unsuspecting heads of our enemies, visiting death and judgement. Radio checks complete and the uneasy silence as the cocked fist of martial supremacy prepares to unleash hell and hellfire.
But it’s the men.
It’s the quiet confidence of the man on my left, the man on my right. It’s the company of heroes, the community of steel, the legion of warriors, those past, present, and future, warriors that embody an ideal, a code, a distinctive.
It’s the brotherhood.
It’s cliché, but it’s the brotherhood.
I recall, vividly, the details of a handful of combat missions. The rest blend into a nebulous morass of fuzzy memories punctuated by a few surprising details.
I recall the best stick of chewing gum I ever chewed, given to me by one of the boys while blasting across the Afghan desert, heading home after a long and hot day marauding.
Ice cold Rip-its taking the dust off an uber-sticky night. When hitching a ride in the back of a Chinook, the Ground Force Sergeant Major grabbing my cluelessly wandering self, sitting me down exactly where he wanted me, and plopping unceremoniously right into my lap. The wonderful taste of a ham-and-cheese omelet at the end of a long night.
Sleeping like the dead on an Army cot in an ice-cold sleep tent in the middle of the bright, desert day.
But, it’s really my brothers.
Why Die (Part II)
How could I ever capture the bond between fighting men?
How could I ever do justice to the sanctity of shared hardship, the mutual shedding of blood, the sacred fetters that these men have always known?
The kids name was Justin, a former infantryman, and now, for this mission, my crew chief. Put the boys in. Simple. Panjwai district, broad daylight, on top of 6-foot-tall hedgerows. No-so-simple.
Less than an hour later, we descended from the bright, desert sky onto the hedges, only one wheel down, maybe. Maybe we hovered. The boys jumped and disappeared into the foliage below. Less than a rotor disc away was one of those weird mud structures, easy to shoot from.
“Steady, steady,” Justin soothed over the ICS. “Hold, hold.” I could see nothing. My entire world shrunk to the few inches surrounding the flight controls. My eyes fixed on the building, a single plant blowing in the rotor wash. Time froze.
At that moment, at that time, Justin became my eyes. His bounced from the descending boys to the surrounding terrain, mini-gun ready to unleash fury. He was my eyes, my ears, my conscience, the rock of my existence.
My life rested in his hands…and his in mine. Completely, unambiguously, without hesitation.
I waited for the tell-tale crack, the spiral of an RPG. An eternity.
Those few eternal seconds embodied the sacred trust between men, the lifeblood of the brotherhood. I never doubted for an instant. I never waivered, what if Justin faltered? No. Our shared fellowship transcended concern for personal welfare.
In that moment, our country was the furthest thing from my mind. My only thought, in that instant, was to do my part for my brother, who was doing his part for me.
You see, no men die for their country. That’s for sentimentality and ceremonies.
But he may just die for his friend…or maybe his brother.
The Brave Rifles Series
Brave Rifles: The Problem of a Godless Army
Author - Founder
Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).
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