Beloved Friends in Christ:
In one week I will be in Rome standing where the Nazis stood during their occupation in 1943, and where the allies marched during their triumphant liberation of the city in 1944. Just a few days later I will be on Omaha beach with a hundred home educators, veterans of D-Day, as well as French survivors of the Normandy liberation.
It will most certainly be the last time in history when these men and others like them will gather in this number to remember the greatest amphibious assault in history, and the most carefully planned battle of the 20th century, in what was undoubtably the greatest war of the last one thousand years.
I am going for many reasons. Today, I want to explain one:
We are gong to tell our sons what it means to die like Christian men. We are going to point our daughters to the examples of those men who are willing to live for something more important than themselves.Huguenots
Here is my view---if you do not have something worth dyeing for, you have nothing to live for.
I am a Christian. That means I must be willing to die for Christ. In my view, this is the only thing worth dying for.
But such a death takes many forms and expressions.
We might be called to die for the doctrines of our Faith, as did the Huguenots, the Covenanters, and so many others in Church history. We might be called to die because the State hates our Faith, as did many of the early martyrs of Rome and the coliseum.
And we might be called to die in defense of others remembering that greater love hath no man then that he lat down his life for his friends.
It was for this reason that so many Americans died on Utah and Omaha beaches, and in the fields of Normandy on June 6, 1944, and in the days that followed.
For many reasons World War II is a landmark in our history as a nation. It was the last constitutionally declared war; It was the last war fought by men who were born from parents who themselves were born in the age of Christendom and the pre-modern world. It was also the last war which was inaugurated with clear military objectives only after we had been formally attacked by another nation. Notably, it was the last declared war to be fought predominantly by men in the field, while wives and daughters stayed at home.
But there is another point worth remembering---WWII was the last war in which our leaders and allies formally invoked the name of Jesus Christ in their communications. It was their presumption that they were defending what Churchill called "Christian civilization."
We should not be surprised, therefore, that amongst the ranks of heroes on D-Day were individuals and leaders who invoked the name of the Lord, who sought the favor of the living God, and who taught their men what it would mean to die like a Christian.
One example was Lt. Col. Robert Lee Wolverton, a West Point graduate, responsible for commanding the 3rd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division,
On June 5th, before his men boarded their C-47 aircraft Lt. Col. Wolverton prayed:
"God almighty, in a few short hours we will be in battle with the enemy. We do not join battle afraid. We do not ask favors or indulgence but ask that, if You will, use us as Your instrument for the right and an aid in returning peace to the world.
"We do not know or seek what our fate will be. We ask only this, that if we must die, that we die as men would die, without complaining, without pleading and safe in the feeling that we have done our best for what we believed was right.
"Oh Lord, protect our loved ones and be near us in the fire ahead and with us now as we pray to you."
There was silence for two minutes as each man contemplated his duty to fight, and perhaps die like men.
With this mandate, Colonel Wolverton ordered the men: "Move out."
In their book "Tonight We Die Like Men" (by Ian Gardner and Roger Day), the authors explain that Wolverton believed that he would die in the Normandy operation, so he wrote 21 letters to his 1 year old son to be given to him at every birthday until he was a grown man.
Within 30 minutes of the drop, Lt. Col. Wolverton was killed. He landed in a tree just outside of St. Come-du-Mont (near where we will be in Carentan). He was unable to dis-entangle himself and was shredded by German machine gun fire.
Oh, God help us to die like men.
P.S. You can help us with this important message, by supporting the work of Faith of Our Fathers Project on www.visionforumministries.org/support. Your tax-deductible donation will allow us to bring back more veterans, to honor them with a great event, to produce the films and teaching tools we need so that hundreds of thousands can grow in their appreciation and gratitude to the Lord and for their WWII fathers. We are looking for about $30,000 more for our effort. Your consideration is greatly appreciated.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
How to Die Like a Christian Man
Some of you may have noticed the more personal messages Doug Phillps has been sending out of late. I hope he will not mind when I post this one here for the benefit of us all. It is well worth your time.