The U.S. soldier was burned in effigy during an anti war rally in Portland Oregon on March 18, 2007.
Since that day some left wingers have distanced themselves from the factions that put on the burn and right wingers have done a bit of burning up the blogs and airwaves themselves with comments and analysis marked with anger, disappointment and disgust.
What has been harder to find is reaction from U.S. Servicemen and any calls for an apology to them on any level. We can only wonder about the pain and feeling of betrayal they must have felt at seeing or hearing of this display. The remarks are trickling into the military blogs now and it is apparent that the Portland debauch has done little to help with morale.
I can say without doubt that even as only one single and not very important citizen of this country that I speak for millions. There are millions just like me whose names I do not know who would offer a sincere apology to all servicemen of the United States.
The apology would go first to every slain soldier from George Washingtons Continental Armies to the U.S. soldiers of any conflict around the globe that have paid the ultimate sacrifice up to this very day and time.
Secondly it would cover every soldier of every rank from the Chiefs of Staff to the ordinary G.I. It would include Army, U.S. Sailors, Marines, Coastguardsmen, Air Force, National Guard, and Special Ops.
The apology would have to include my late father who dodged Nazi bullets in the Battle of the Bulge. It would include my oldest brother who often returned to his base with his Cobra helicopter riddled full of holes in the Vietnam War.
As a preacher of the gospel I have always been amazed that as I read the New Testament over and over again year by year that one thing stood out. Jesus never commended anyone openly for just about anything. All too often they would pose questions or speak of their own religious beliefs so as to trick him or boast about their solid lifestyle or religious practices. He rebuked some and ignored others but he never commended them. He left no reason to wonder why the Apostle John penned these words concerning Jesus, And (he) needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man. John 2:25
But wait! One person alone was highly commended by Jesus for his outstanding faith. The exemplary faith Jesus commended was found in guess whom? You guessed it, a soldier.
Perhaps a soldier will always be the best example of faith until the end of time. It takes faith in something bigger than you to even consider being a soldier. Be it God, country, family whats right or whatever it is. Called by any other name it is after all, the right stuff.
The story is that A Roman soldier sent to Jesus to ask him if he would come to his house and heal his servant. Upon arrival at the soldiers house Jesus was told that he need not even enter the house. If he would just say a word the servant would be healed. The soldier needed no signs and wonders no sideshow or emotional outburst just a word. The soldier knew the meaning of the word authority, as a soldier it obviously goes with the territory.
Jesus not only marveled at the soldiers faith but remarked how he had never seen such faith in the whole nation of Israel. This commendation is the only one of its kind in the entire New Testament. Read it. Luke 7: 1-10
So what has this story got to do with an apology to U.S. Servicemen? First anyone who decides to wear the uniform of his own country and stand in defense of every person within its borders has got to be acting on at least two motivating principles. One is faith. It takes faith to place a life in a position where it may end so some one elses life will not end or even be threatened.
The second is a principle embodied in the highest of all concepts according to Christ. It is explained best in a single verse from the Bible.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
Everyone has heard the expression blind faith but what is spoken of here is not blind but fully cognizant faith. A soldier is always aware of the price he or she may have to pay for their choice to stand on the line between enemies and his own countrymen.
So we apologize to you who have decided to stand by faith where the rest of us will not even have to imagine going. Thank you for your faith in us and we want you to know of our faith in you regardless of protests, flaming effigies or any other display that a few discontented citizens may produce.