Sunday, April 09, 2006

An American Hero

After a weekend devoted to men in history that were poor leaders and great leaders, we got to hear from an American Hero that added a personal perspective to a significant part of world history.

Bob's father was drafted in 1943 and learned Morse Code just in time to be trained as a voice radio operator at Normandy on June 6th, 1944 when he participated in the D-Day invasion and never stopped fearing his next breath would be his last until he was relieved on December 29th. During that time, he carried a body bag for himself and was trained never to help a fallen soldier (that was the medics' job bringing up the rear) and never to fear the sound of the bullets. The bullets approaching him didn't make a sound.

He learned the job of the voice radio operator through a series of mistakes and was trained remotely by other operators. It was interesting to learn earlier that Ham radio was the lure that pulled Bob to Vanderbilt's electrical engineering program. Hearing this story from Bob's hero explained a lot to me about why Bob has always called his father his hero.

He told us that he has relived the invasion in his mind every June 6th since that day. He recounted a few mistakes in direction from his leadership, a few misunderstandings of the French that saw his troops as heroes as they chased the Germans out of France. One French farmer cursed at the Germans for killing a cow that the American troop had unintentially hit. Another time the civilian people in Paris followed his troop for three days after being freed. In order to move forward without the people, the American army had to scare the French back toward Paris.

Just like his son, Bob's father viewed his earthly experiences as secondary to what he learned when he returned to Kentucky and learned the principle of the cross. Although he came to know the Lord at the age of 14, he didn't find his own identity until he well past the age of 30 or 40. It was encouraging for me to hear him "narrow down" and lump together the decade that I have just completed as if that was insignificant in the vapor we call life.

Thanks to Bob (and my pastor/teacher, Mike), it was fairly simple for me to gain the profound perspective of who I am in Christ in my early 20's.

Who knows what would have happened if thousands of men had not given their lives in World War II for our freedom to study the scriptures in our homes today. In no way do I want to dishonor their sacrifice, but it is trivial compared to the cross that enabled the sacrifice, service, obedience, good fight and sense of wonder within us.

It was the creativity of the largely uneducated Allied troops that overcame the poor direction of Germany's leadership and limitations of the German resources that ended that war.

No comments: