Thank God for our veterans
This Tuesday is Veterans Day. I am thankful for our
Our military has been much in the public eye for seven years
now. Our country is currently home to many young veterans of the war on terror,
as well as older vets from prior wars. John McCain’s story of valor as a POW in
Vietnam has even more squarely focused our nation on those who have paid a high
price in the cause of freedom.
A former prisoner of war attended the last church I
pastored. Cor Longiotti fought for the U.S. in Italy during World War II.
In battle after battle, Longiotti narrowly cheated death
while watching his comrades fall. When a machine gunner was hit, Longiotti was
pressed into service as a gunner with no prior experience. It was not a coveted
post. Gunners were prime targets and usually didn’t live long.
“During an enemy mortar barrage,” Longiotti remembers, “a
mortar landed just a few feet away, and the concussion literally lifted me up
off the ground.”
Another time, a piece of shrapnel slammed into the back of
Eventually, Longiotti’s 45th Division, exhausted and with
heavy casualties, participated in the invasion of Anzio, a beachhead that
became the scene of bloody, nonstop battle. When Longiotti’s machine gun was
disabled by a blast, his imperiled group was flanked by the enemy and captured.
He was moved from prison camp to lice-infested prison camp
in Germany. Food was meager, and water was rationed. Medical aid was virtually
nonexistent. Longiotti’s weight plunged to 90 pounds.
On April 26, 1945, the American 3rd Infantry Division freed
the prisoners. Longiotti had been a POW for more than 14 months. Today
Longiotti, a resident of Ashland, Ore., says, “God helped me through it, though
I never forget it.”
To all our veterans, we say, thank you.
To all our churches: Let’s do everything we can to support
these men and women who have given so much. We needed them; now they need us.
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