“I prayed, “O my God, I am utterly ashamed; I blush to lift up my face to you. For our sins are piled higher than our heads, and our guilt has reached to the heavens.”
Ezra 9:6 NLT. http://bible.com/116/ezr.9.6.nlt
Yesterday, Memorial Day, my CMA family planned an impromptu motorcycle ride. It was a beautiful day for a ride. As we always do, we found a little ice cream shop outside of Bryan, Ohio called Eric's. They claim to have the worlds best root beer floats. They were pretty good. While there, we met a Vietnam Vet who also was riding a motorcycle. As we usually do, we struck up a conversation about motorcycles and got on the topic of Rolling Thunder. Rolling Thunder is a motorcycle demonstration honoring the Vietnam POWs. Bob, shared with us his own journey with his Vietnam vets. He spoke about how they raised money to build a monument to those he served with and died in Vietnam. He talked about how they were hated when they returned to the airport in Toledo. He and his platoon didn't see each other again until 2008. They have met every year since. He talked about his wife who had died 16 years earlier. He talked about coming to the VA hospital in Fort Wayne. I felt an overwhelming sadness at how Bob had been treated for his service. In those few short moments I drew close to this aging veteran. He sat there proudly wearing his Vietnam Veterans cap, alone, having ice cream on Memorial Day.
I thought we should do something for Bob. What do you do? How can we even come close to honoring these me who served and were so mistreated when they returned? The damage of our nations treatment of Vietnam Vets is done, it's over, we can't take it back. I asked Bob if we could pray with him. I was honored to lead a prayer thanking Jesus for Bob's service and the lives of those lost defending our country. I prayed that God who give a special blessing to this man for his service. I prayed that God would forgive us for our treatment of them those many years ago. After that prayer, I hugged this wonderful stranger. With a tear in his eye, he thanked us. The real thanks goes to Bob and others like him. I apologized multiple times for the way our country treated him upon his return. I'm embarrassed for our country even these 40+ years later. We should never forget this sad chapter in our country and we should always take time to ask forgiveness from those we hurt by our actions. There is nothing more Christ like than serving to protect others and offering your life is that ultimate price. We can never forget that.
I praise God for those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and those that lived through that horrific chapter as our nations people forgot the value of military service. I pray we never make that same mistake.