I love Veteran's Day. As I've gotten older and learned more about the history of our country, I have come to love the opportunities we're given to pay our respects to the true heroes who have faithfully served to protect our freedom. I have to wear sunglasses every year at the Memorial Day parade to hide the tears that roll down my face when the veterans march by. My kids learned God Bless America along with their ABCs. And each year, we honor a hero living among us on Veteran's Day. Greg and I want our children to understand how truly blessed they are to be Americans, and that the freedoms we enjoy have come at a very high price.
A few months ago I was at a Ladies Tea at our church and my new friend Emily casually mentioned that her father, Mike Dove, who also goes to our church, had served in the Vietnam War and earned two Purple Hearts. TWO purple hearts. I went home and googled "Purple Heart," just out of curiosity. I'd certainly heard of the honor before, but wasn't quite sure what one might have to endure to earn one. Here's what I discovered, courtesy of Wikipedia:
The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services after April 5, 1917, has been wounded or killed. Specific examples of services which warrant the Purple Heart include any action against an enemy of the United States; any action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the Armed Forces of the United States are or have been engaged; while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party; as a result of an act of any such enemy of opposing armed forces; or as the result of an act of any hostile foreign force.
Mike served in the United States Army in Vietnam, and was shot at and wounded while he was there. On one such occasion, many of his comrades were not merely wounded; they gave their lives that day in a country on the other side of the world. They never came home.
Mike Dove actually caught Greg and I's eye soon after we started attending our new church, long before we knew he was a war hero. He stood out because he was always bustling about the church, cleaning, preparing, and serving. We assumed he was an employee because he always seemed to be working. He was the one who made sure there was hot, fresh coffee during Sunday School. He was the one who made sure the Communion was ready at the front of the church. He was the one in the kitchen during the fellowship lunches, making sure there was enough fried chicken and mashed potatoes. He was always the one emptying the trash.
Turns out he's not an employee. He's just a man with a servant's heart.
"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace."
1 Peter 4:10