Celebrating those who answer yes to question: 'Are we patriots'?


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By Reggie Ponder

Thursday, July 12, 2018

I am feeling especially grateful this morning for people who dedicate themselves to service, to helping others, to community well-being and the pubic good and all of those kinds of ideals.

While they might be ideals, what they represent is as real as it gets and the sacrifices that sometimes are required in pursuing those ideals are all too real.

These sacrifices are made by military personnel, police, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, and others whose sacrifice is less obvious but still substantial.

Sacrifice goes against an animal instinct of self-preservation and embodies the best of what makes us truly human. There is a powerful impulse to run away from a burning building, or the sound of gunfire, or even the cries of those who are suffering.

At the same time there is a voice of conscience, a sense of obligation to others, what people of faith might call the “still, small voice” of God. It’s a sign of being created in the image of God, as described in Genesis.

There is a glimpse of that image of God in the human character traits of responsibility, compassion, loyalty and love.

I was reminded again of these qualities as I read of the former Thai Navy Seal who died attempting to rescue young men from the cave in Thailand. I am immensely thankful for the successful rescue and appreciate all those who took part in it. Especially I appreciate the man who gave his life in the process.

While some risk their lives on a regular basis to help others, we never know when we might find ourselves in a situation where we are called to risk something, to give more than we’re accustomed to, to go out on a limb to help someone else back to safety.

Marvin Olasky in a recent interview of religious freedom attorney and political journalist David French asked French about his decision to volunteer, in his mid-30s, for service in the Army at the beginning of the surge in Iraq.

French explained that he had been complaining to his wife that Americans seemed too weak-kneed and weak-willed to volunteer in numbers sufficient to successfully fight the war. And as he listened to himself, he began asking himself what he was doing about it.

His wife was averse to his ideas about volunteering for service until their young son asked her what a patriot is. When she replied that a patriot is someone who loves their country more than they love themself, the child did what children do and asked the next logical question: Are we patriots?

The mother answered, “Yes we are,” and told her husband she had experienced a change of heart.

And French volunteered. He started a running regimen to get back in shape after years of a desk job with a religious freedom litigation organization. He endured the snickers from recruiters about his age and background.

The Army decided it needed him, and he served in Iraq during 2006-07.

What I like best about that story is a young mother’s intuitive answer to her child’s question.

Are we patriots?

Reggie Ponder is a staff writer for The Daily Advance.