In the midst of a world at war,-Statement of Faith by Aimee Moiso
amidst a creation straining toward light,
amidst a people divided against themselves,
amidst broken homes, broken families, broken bodies, broken hearts:
I believe in God…
I had the opportunity today to witness a student at my university thank a Vietnam Veteran for his service during the Vietnam War. The man was wearing a Vietnam Veterans hat, which made it clear that he had served in that military campaign and alerted the student to the man’s past. The man and his wife were taking pictures near some of the massive rose bushes that Santa Clara University is famous for (which I was marveling at between classes). The student shook the man’s hand and told him it was an honor to meet someone who had served his country in combat. The man replied that he was pleased to be able to serve, and I could see the twinkle in his eye as he said it.
My father served one tour during the height of the Vietnamese Conflict, having been drafted by the government. Because of this, I am acutely aware of the lasting effects military service can have on a soldier and, later, his families. I know of the stories—some about the camaraderie between friends serving together that are particularly hilarious and entertaining, and others that describe the horror of war that can hardly be put into words.
I am also very well aware of the mistreatment of Vietnam veterans in particular after they returned home following their service. They were called “baby-killers”, rapists, murderers, criminals. I have heard the stories of anti-war protestors spitting on them at the airports upon their return. I know of people like Jane Fonda who, through their actions, boosted the morale of the Viet Kong which directly led to a continuation of the conflict that could have ended earlier.
My dad suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which has fundamentally affected the way in which he interacts with himself, those around him, and the environments he is in. He won’t ever sit with his back to a door when he is in public places. Early upon his return to the US, things could immediately bring him back to the warzone—the sound of a whistle would cause a flood of memories of the dropping of enemy mortars and cause him to run for cover, as would the sound of a car backfiring, thinking that he might well be in danger. I know some of the stories of his nightmares that, although not as frequent, still happen today.
I know that on June 19th, during of an ambush, his company lost the vast majority of their men (upwards of 90%), which my father fortunately survived; the brothers with whom he had served for the entire duration of his time there, taken away. It was a conflict that he did not choose to fight in—that many did not choose to fight in—because of the draft. But, it was a conflict that he came to believe in because of the repressive dealings of the Communist regime that was seeking power. Whether or not one believes that fighting Communism is an effort that the US military should have been involved in, it is reprehensible that many of our vets were treated with disdain for serving their country and answering the call. It was certainly not without severe personal costs.
As I witnessed this student thank the man today, I could not and cannot help but be overcome with emotion. I often wonder if these kinds of displays are actually more meaningful to the wives and families of veterans than they are to the veterans themselves. So often our veterans are humble and unassuming about their service. It was an act of civic duty and a display of their love for their country. To them, they were doing exactly what they think everyone should be willing to do. But we, the families, know well the lasting effects that these wars have had on our fathers, brothers, grandfathers, husbands.
The reality of war is clearly one of the most devastating consequences of sin. We live in a fallen world where bullets and bombs are made to destroy our enemies, rather than bonds of peace being forged through mutual concern. Jesus Christ, our glorious Prince of Peace is establishing His kingdom on the earth, and is bringing a renewal of the whole world. The prophet Isaiah spoke of the coming peace and the judgment of Jesus Christ where “He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isa. 2:4).
One day peace will reign on this earth and in the hearts of men. Justice will be served by a holy and righteous God against the wicked. Reconciliation is offered now to all who would come to Him and submit to Jesus by faith. Forgiveness for everyone, no matter how severe the sin. This is the good news.
Please, when you see a serviceman or woman, take the time to thank them for their service. Take the time to look them in the eyes and tell them that it is honorable and meaningful to you that they were willing to risk their lives to protect the freedom we have. It is through the blood of men and women that this nation was founded. It is because of their blood and toil that we have the freedom to even protest the very wars they are fighting. We have the right to speak the most heinous bile imaginable against soldiers themselves because men and women in the past have been willing to lay their lives down to protect those rights.
When you see a veteran, know that their sacrifice has left deep scars that will always affect them and their families. Know that they were willing to fight, no matter what they cost. Know that they must have had their Garden of Gethsemane moment, begging God to let this cup pass from their lips. And know that they are a reflection of the greatest sacrifice—Christ going to the cross for the sins of His people, the ultimate injustice.
I am proud of my father. I am proud to be his son. And I am very proud to call myself an American because of the unparalleled honor that I see in our military—not perfect, not without sin, not without mistakes; but more often then not, I believe that we have lent our aid to protect and secure freedom for the “least of these” who suffer in foreign lands. That is something I can be proud of, though I will continually yearn and pray for Christ to establish an everlasting peace that will free this world from the affliction and horrors of war.