Friday, January 13, 2012

Free Friday: A Tribute To One of My Heroes

Ballad of the Green Beret
by Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler and Robin Moore, copyright 1966
Fighting soldiers from the sky
Fearless men who jump and die
Men who mean just what they say
The brave men of the Green Beret

Silver wings upon their chest
These are men, America's best
One hundred men will test today
But only three win the Green Beret

Trained to live off nature's land
Trained in combat, hand-to-hand
Men who fight by night and day
Courage peak from the Green Berets

Silver wings upon their chest
These are men, America's best
One hundred men will test today
But only three win the Green Beret

Back at home a young wife waits
Her Green Beret has met his fate
He has died for those oppressed
Leaving her his last request

Put silver wings on my son's chest
Make him one of America's best
He'll be a man they'll test one day
Have him win the Green Beret.

I was in the first grade when this song became popular. Our music teacher, Mrs. Schoonover, would take requests while waiting for class to be dismissed and this was the most requested song. I don't think we ever left the music room without singing it at least once! Not only was it patriotic and poignant, but most of us could name at least one person fighting in that far away country with the funny sounding name.

The soldiers we knew were probably not in the Green Beret. As the song says one hundred would test but only three would meet the standard. This didn't matter because the anthem struck a chord in the hearts of those little kids who bellowed it out every time they went to music class.

Eleven years later I would meet one of the 3% immortalized in that song. On Christmas Day 1977 I was invited to meet my future brother-in-law and his wife, Pastor Dad's sister as part of Round 1 of the "Meet the Family" tradition that commonly precedes the marriage ceremony.

I have many memories of him through the intervening 34 years. Some of them are funny, hilarious even, and I can barely type without laughing through my tears. But these are private stories, the kind that might be shared among our cherished group of mourners at his funeral today.

Although I do not feel the liberty to share those here I do want to publicly thank him for his service to our country.
  • Thanks, Bill, for being one of those real life heroes I sang about in elementary school.

And there are other things that come to mind.
  • Thanks to you and your wife for being a great big brother and big sister to Pastor Dad and me.
  • Thanks for all those crazy Monopoly games we played when we were all young enough to stay up late.
  • Thanks for not hiding your sweet tooth. It helped me to not feel so guilty about having a mouth full of 'em myself! I always knew I'd have an ally when the question "Does anyone want dessert?" was asked.
  • Thanks for chatting with me about genealogy. It was fascinating to compare notes on our different German roots.
  • Thanks for telling your children about Jesus without pulling any punches about the life you lived before meeting the Lord. This had to encourage them to skip the rebellious lifestyle and head straight to Godly living.
  • Thanks for visiting us when we lived in Tennessee. It really was a big deal.
  • Thanks for being such a great uncle. Like myself, you have no biological nieces and nephews, but you never seemed to notice that our children were not blood relatives.
  • Thanks for the bear hugs.
  • Thanks for concentrating on how long you were blessed to live and not how young you would be when you died.
  • Thanks for the courage you showed in recent weeks while fighting your final battle. You modeled dying grace in front of us all as a soldier of the Lord. We look forward to seeing you again once our own battles are over!

You truly are one of my heroes and I'll miss you. No family gathering will ever be the same without you; like the traditional tribute to the absent soldier your place at the table will always be empty.

1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

2 Tim 2:1-4 (KJV)

1 comment :

  1. Thank you so much for the wonderful words about Dad. They are EXACTLY what I need in this moment of darkness. I love you!


Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
Psalms 19:14 (KJV)