Thank you Will, Luther, Don, Randy and Mike.
I watched an incredible movie last night. The movie was “The Last Full Measure”, based on the true story of Air Force Sgt. William Pitsenbarger, an Air Force paratrooper who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. In April of 1966, he chose to be dropped from his helicopter into incredibly heavy gunfire to save nearly 60 Army soldiers who were being ambushed by the Vietcong. He didn’t know any of the men he saved, as he became their medic, as the Army medic was severely wounded during the ambush. When the last helicopter to safety had to leave because of the danger of the situation, Sgt. Pitsenbarger waived this helicopter off and chose to stay and fight with those still on the ground. Tragically, he was killed by a Vietcong sniper during the battle.
One of the Army soldiers said that seeing Sgt. Pitsenbarger cable down from the helicopter while his troop was being ambushed seemed like some sort of miracle, as he thought death would be eminent. Although it took nearly 34 years, Sgt. Pitsenbarger was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military award that can be received. He put others before himself in a way that I can’t even imagine.
As we acknowledged the 20th anniversary of 9/11, there were many stories not just about New York’s Bravest and Finest who gave their lives to save others, but also about civilians who gave their lives to ensure that the others around them got to safety. I’m sure there are many stories that we may never know.
We had a guest speaker at our church on Sunday, and she made a statement that still strongly resonates with me five days later – the statement was “Don’t think less of yourself – just think of yourself a little less.” It’s a reminder that we can always be there for others, even when struggling to be there for ourselves. It’s said that people come into others’ lives for a reason…how many times has this been referred to as a miracle by someone when this happens?
This was an enlightening week. As much as we continue to dwell on the things that divide us, we have reminders of what happens when we not only think of others, but also the importance of putting aside the things that divide us. In both Vietnam, and the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and Shanksville Pennsylvania, we saw miracles even in the moments of darkest tragedy, as people put their own lives aside to save the lives of others, where color, religion, politics and preference did not matter.
I hope the day comes when we all can find the unity we shared on September 12, 2001, where we had the utmost respect for those who put others first.
That’s what a miracle can do.