LAYING DOWN LIVES
When Soldiers Die for One Another
As we mark another Memorial Day honoring those in uniform who have given their lives in service to the nation, it’s important to remember a truism of war: In the heat of combat, a soldier fights not for his country but for his buddy on the right and the left. The bond among soldiers, forged in battle, is as strong, or stronger, than any tie to nation or family.Consider the case of Navy SEAL Michael Monsoor. On Sept. 29, 2006, Monsoor was serving with a small team of SEALs on a rooftop in hotly contested town of Ramadi. They were in the overwatch position, providing surveillance and security for the troops on the ground. They’d been engaged in several firefights already when an enemy grenade came flying over the edge of the roof, hitting Monsoor in the chest, before falling between his two SEAL comrades.Being situated next to the exit from the roof, Monsoor was the only one in a position to escape the blast. Instinctively he could have dropped down the stairs and taken cover a wall before the grenade exploded, and no one would have thought less of him for doing so.But Monsoor’s primary concern was not for his own safety; it was for the lives of his friends. Instead of ducking for cover, he turned and threw himself on the grenade just as it exploded, saving the lives of everyone else on the roof. For his courageous actions, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.Or consider the case of Army Rangers stationed in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Oct. 3, 1993—the day of the infamous Black Hawk Down incident when Somali militants shot down two Army helicopters. The Rangers who had gone to the crash sites were vastly outnumbered and cut off from resupply or rescue. Word went out that a rescue mission was to be mounted. Every cook, clerk, and supply assistant at the base was to gear up and prepare to move back into the dangerous city, despite the fact that several vehicles had just returned filled with dead and wounded.
Yet not a single man flinched or refused to go. Even those who could have been excused from action easily boarded vehicles to head back. One soldier even cut the cast off his broken arm so he could go with them.
At the second crash site, Master Sergeant Gary Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart volunteered to rescue the fallen crew, knowing that what they were doing would almost certainly result in their deaths. Both Gordon and Shughart were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for their courage and honor.
This love for comrades, for that is what it is, is a great illustration of John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” It is agape love in action, wishing the best for another, even at great cost. It is the love shown by Christ, who scorned the shame of the cross and faced an agonizing death all to save sinners (see Heb. 12:2). Like Monsoor, Gordon, Shughart, and numerous Rangers, He humbled himself and became obedient to death, all to save us (see Phil. 2:8).
So as you remember our fallen dead today, remember Him who, out of great love for us, gave his life.
This article was originally published on May 25, 2015, and is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message, “The Passion of God’s Love”.
As you remember our nation’s fallen heroes today, remember Him who, out of great love for us, gave his life.