Yesterday we commemorated the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Code named Operation Overlord, the successful Allied effort to establish a beachhead on the shores of France, this monumental day was the first step in the long slog toward taking Berlin in our quest to defeat Nazi Germany.
This critical moment in world history involved not only the American soldiers who stormed ashore at beaches named Utah and Omaha, but also the brave American paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne who jumped out of perfectly good airplanes under enemy fire in the still dark early morning hours of June 6, 1944. And we must not forget the valiant efforts of hundreds of thousands of other, everyday Americans who supported these brave warriors behind the scenes in a myriad of ways.
In this worldwide conflagration, we did not stand alone. Our most loyal ally, Great Britain, had been fighting this war for several years before we Americans fully entered the fray. My purpose here is not to discount the efforts of the British, the Canadian, the Australian or any other allied warrior who spent their blood, their toil, their sweat and their tears. My purpose here, as an American, is to tap this inspiring story of millions of Americans who gave themselves willingly to defend liberty. My hope is that I might inspire today’s generations of Americans. For we too are called, in our own way, to stand and fight for freedom.
The American heroes and heroines of the WWII generation entered the story. We can take a lesson from them.
Today, we early 21st Century Americans likewise fight for liberty. Yet ours is a war of a different kind. I write not of the War on Terror, the conflict in Afghanistan, or our recent engagement in Iraq. These are real wars against real flesh and blood enemies who seek our demise and destruction. They want to fill our hearts and minds with terror. But my focus here today is not on this ruthless enemy.
The conflict of which I speak, the struggle in which we find ourselves engaged today, is the defense of our own lives against the treacheries coming out of our own, out-of-control national government. All three branches have become detached from the core principles of our nation’s founding, often ignoring our Constitution’s Bill of Rights. And what may be even more threatening is the massive bureaucracy in Washington which now moves unchecked into every nook and cranny of our lives, telling us what to drive, what kinds of light bulbs we must buy, and now, even what we should eat.
Underneath this fearsome foe of big government lays a seedbed of co-conspirators in our primary and secondary schools, our colleges and universities, and in our entertainment industry and news media, who wish for us to stop thinking on our own. And many of us have.
Meanwhile, most of our church pulpits remain silent about this war of worldviews going on right under our noses. Ours is a war fought on the battleground of ideas, where worldviews collide, where hearts and minds are the contended-for ground. Should we not be contending for this ground? We attend our Sunday services, read and study our Bibles, enjoy our morning devotionals, and then send our children off to the university-mills, which with factory-like clockwork, regularly crank out mind-numbed, brainwashed products. Fortunately, not all are as weak and unprepared for the assault on their souls as are most. Some survive to join us, the protagonists in this story. The vast majority are simply taken out of the story altogether, reduced to mere outside, unengaged observers of the story, but not participants in it. And some are won over and become warriors, now standing against us as fresh, newly recruited antagonists in the story.
Although we do not yet face the same fears of shed blood, loss of limbs, or even loss of life as did our ancestors and those who fight on foreign fields today, we yet contend for the same American liberty. Yet sadly, unlike those in the days of our parents and grandparents, Americans of our generation slumber. Awash in things, we are numbed by our possessions and our pleasures. As our country is systematically subdued, and our founding principles are methodically undermined by twisted, malevolent ideologues, we go about our everyday routines, either oblivious or unconcerned.
Yet underneath it all, there exists in many of the slumbering, a hidden, yet to be quickened, yearning for meaning, for purpose. I recently viewed a short, but well produced video that I found to be quite poignant. It is about a young man’s discovery of life’s meaning beyond the emptiness of his own “selfie” generation. Please take a few minutes to watch.
“I was concerned with having something. They were concerned with giving something.” Douglas Gautrad
Consider now this simple invitation. Like this young man, take some time to reflect on those in your own personal history. Perhaps you have a family member or a friend of a family member from another generation who spent their life pursuing an heroic purpose. Perhaps you have a hero from history from which you draw inspiration. Perhaps you have decided that you simply want to begin living for something bigger than yourself.
Ponder. Reflect. Consider.
How might you “enter the story?”