Search

May 30, 2022

This Loss Will Not Go Unanswered - Memorial Day 2022


It is great to be back with you for GH15. Ceci and I enjoyed a wonderful time of rest and refreshing. I want to thank my friends who filled in so effectively for me while we were away. I know you enjoyed their deep insights and great thoughts.


The immeasurable tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, occurred while I was gone. There are no words to express the sadness and grief I feel for those involved. I, like many, am heartbroken and angry. We have been, and will continue to pray for the families and this city.


On this Memorial Day, we take time to remember those who have given their lives defending our nation. It is a special day and one we honor with sobriety and hearts overflowing with gratitude. I asked our dear friend, Major William Ostan (retired), to share some thoughts with us on this important day. As always, Will does so with great poignancy.


Here are Will’s thoughts:


I have a love/hate relationship with Memorial Day, as I’ve found that the memories of the war-dead both inspire and haunt the living. There are many awful sights, sounds, and smells seared into my soul from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. I cannot shake them, though I’ve tried countless times. I’ve been restored through counseling sessions, but life - through simple, random circumstances - presents constant reminders of the indelible events experienced in a combat zone.

“This is especially true during Memorial Day weekend, as it’s the time set apart to reflect on the high price paid by the Fallen. In contrast to Veterans Day, where we honor the brave men and women still living among us who have served and sacrificed in the name of freedom, Memorial Day is for those who have paid the ultimate price. Though physically no longer among us, their legacies are still echoing in eternity. We are intentional to pause and honor these warriors for giving the ‘last full measure of devotion.’[1]

“I hate that they are gone, as well as the terrible pain caused by their absence - especially for Gold Star families - but I love that their heroic deeds inspire us to live lives of purpose in their honor. Many servicemen and women will tell you they can still feel the presence of comrades they’ve lost to war through the recounting of their courageous acts. The impact of their sacrifice lives on, prompting a response from those who will listen. If we speak the names of the Fallen, they will never be forgotten.

“I’ll never forget the memorial services at Kandahar Airfield during my time as an Army JAG attorney, assigned to a Special Operations Task Force comprised of Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs. During any combat deployment, whenever a warrior is killed in action, a ‘ramp ceremony’ is held, no matter the time of day or night the death occurs. When the call goes out across the battlefield, everyone stops whatever they’re doing and attends the memorial service, even if they haven’t slept in days and it’s zero dark thirty. We celebrate that warrior’s life, and we salute the coffin as it is conveyed up the ramp into the C-130 aircraft that will take the deceased home for their final flight. It is a solemn act of remembrance, full of honor.

“The memory of these ramp ceremonies causes me to ask,

Am I living my life in a way that’s worthy of the sacrifices made by the Fallen? The brothers and sisters from my units in Iraq and Afghanistan who are no longer with us, would they be proud of me? Or would they be ashamed?’[2]

“In this spirit, across America and around the world, thousands of people today will complete a workout called ‘The Murph,’[3] in honor of Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy.,[4] Lieutenant Murphy was a Navy SEAL, who willingly gave his life during an operation gone bad, in order that his fellow SEALs could live. His valorous acts of heroism,[5] for which President George W. Bush awarded him the Medal of Honor,[6] speak louder than any words ever could – inspiring those of us who remain to ensure that the Fallen will never have died in vain.

“On July 8th, 2005, Commodore Pete Van Hooser spoke at a memorial service for Lieutenant Murphy and the other fallen members of SEAL Team Ten. His speech is extremely moving, especially when he concludes by saying, ‘This loss will not go unanswered. It is always humbling to be in the presence of warriors.[7]

“The sentiment ‘this loss will not go unanswered’ strikes me as such a perfect description of the death of Jesus Christ. The greatest injustice ever witnessed by creation did not go unanswered, as Jesus rose from the grave three days later, thereby making a way for us to be with Him for eternity. Furthermore, thousands of years after Jesus commanded His followers to ‘go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,’[8] we are now God’s answer to reach the modern world with the gospel.

“You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who loves America more than I do. I am an ardent patriot who bleeds red, white, and blue. However, I realize fighting for America pales in comparison to advancing the cause of Christ. Therefore, we also look to the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ referenced in Hebrews 12:1 to draw strength from their stories. We must be willing to ‘pay any price and bear any burden’[9] to advance Christ’s Kingdom, as we follow the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to ‘walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called.’[10]

“Major Dick Winters, of Band of Brothers fame, when asked by his granddaughter if he was a hero, answered, ‘No, but I served in the company of heroes.’[11] On this Memorial Day, may we always remember and never forget that we are in the company of heroes and warriors as we stay on mission for Christ, to make His kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven.”

Pray with me:

Heavenly Father, we thank You for the lives of the men and women who have fought and died to protect liberty. You know their names, their unseen acts of courage, and their final resting place. You grasp the significance of a life laid down for others, and how their absence impacts those left grieving and remembering. Father, would You comfort those who mourn, and help each of us know how we must respond, so those losses do not go unanswered. And as we reflect on the most significant sacrifice - that of Your one and only Son - empower us to live our lives in a manner worthy of the calling we have received.


And Father, we also pray for those affected by the tragedy in Texas. We ask You to comfort those who have lost family members, and help the entire community deal with the overwhelming shock and grief. Our nation has opened the door to such incredible violence and bloodshed. We ask You to cleanse our land and deliver us from this. Revive us, we pray.


And we pray all of this in Christ’s name. Amen.

Our decree: We will be a people who remember the lives of the Fallen and live in such a way that honors their sacrifice.[12]

Bio:

William J. Ostan is a medically retired U.S. Army Major and combat veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the Founder and President of Arc of Justice, a nonprofit organization that advocates for wounded warriors still on active duty. Will is currently spearheading the Wounded Warrior Bill of Rights (H.R. 6043) in Congress. You can find out more about his story at www.arcofjusticeusa.org

Click on the link below to watch the full video.


 

[1] This is a phrase from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

[2] These questions are like the ones that the surviving Soldier “Private Ryan” asks his family in an extraordinarily inspiring scene at the end of the movie Saving Private Ryan.

[3] https://themurphchallenge.com

[4] Author Dick Couch describes Murph in the following way, “A combat leader lives, and sometimes dies, by his ability to balance two often mutually exclusive duties: he must accomplish his mission and he must take care of his men…we do know this: Mike Murphy did all in his power to accomplish his mission. When that became impossible, he did all in his power to take care of his men. In the face of impossible odds and mortally wounded, he fought and led until the moment he was killed.” SEAL of Honor: Operation Red Wings and the Life of LT. Michael P. Murphy, USN, page XIII, quoting Dick Couch, SEAL (BUD/S) Class 45, UDT 22/SEAL Team One.

[5] “Valor is a gift. Those having it never know for sure whether they have it till the test comes. And those having it in one test never know for sure if they will have it when the next test comes.” Carl Sandburg, American poet. SEAL of Honor: Operation Red Wings and the Life of LT. Michael P. Murphy, USN, page XIV.

[6] “In his final act of bravery, he committed to engaging the enemy until he was mortally wounded, gallantly giving his life for the cause of freedom. By his selfless leadership, courageous actions, and extraordinary devotion to duty, Lieutenant Murphy reflected great credit upon him and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.” President George W. Bush, at the White House Medal of Honor presentation ceremony on October 22, 2007.

[7] The entire speech is recorded in Gary Williams’ book SEAL of Honor: Operation Red Wings and the Life of LT. Michael P. Murphy, USN pages 176-179. The book and movie Lone Survivor describe the unbelievable bravery and heroic exploits of Murph and his SEAL Team Ten teammates during the early years of the war in Afghanistan.

[8] “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 ESV.

[9] “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty. This much we pledge – and more.” John F. Kennedy, Presidential Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961.

[10] Ephesians 4:1 ESV.

[11] SEAL of Honor: Operation Red Wings and the Life of LT. Michael P. Murphy, USN, page XIII.

[12] With any loss, comes grief and remembrance, often accompanied by reflections on how we can carry on the memory of the ones who are gone. When I remember the warriors who fought and died for a cause they believed in, I realize that I must look at my own life to determine how to live in such a way that gives eternal meaning and purpose to their sacrifice.