For God and Country: Lessons from Leonard
By pure chance, or maybe God, I had the privilege of having lunch with Leonard on Sunday. Leonard is a WWII veteran, which is becoming increasingly special because, as he reminded me with peaceful acceptance, "there aren't many of us left".
I didn't have an agenda during our lunch, just to listen to the things on the minds of him and his wife. Leonard told me he served on an LST - Landing Ship Tank - during the Battle of Okinawa.
Most people know exactly what this means because the infamy of this battle reverberates today. For those unaware of the specifics, taking the Japanese island of Okinawa was the largest amphibious assault of the Pacific theater involving over 200,000 troops for the US alone. It is also known as one of the bloodiest. Over 50,000 Allied troops and 110,000 Japanese troops were killed. I learned it is called the "Typhoon of Steel".
And Leonard manned the boats that delivered men and equipment to the beaches.
I didn't press him for specifics, but could only thank him for his service and courage, knowing solely through movies the horror he likely experienced. He didn't fully accept the gratitude I had for his sacrifice, saying "I'm no more special than any of those other guys. And especially them that didn't come home".
Leonard and his wife also talked to me what they worry about. They said how excited they were to see Stephanie and I, younger people at the conference, because they're scared of the direction our generation is headed. They have 48 grandchildren and few of them are awake or understand what is happening to this country. They spoke of the negativity and the anger that they see from people my age.
What a travesty - truly heartbreaking - that this man who went up against tyrannical, suicidal Japanese soldiers is living his last days seeing MY generation falling away. Fighting for this country only for her values to be eroded by people who wouldn't be alive yet for your dead brothers in arms on godforsaken beaches somewhere in the middle of the ocean.
Maybe worse still, is that Leonard and his wife continue to fight. Their words, not mine, were that they see this as a new type of war and that even though they are too old to physically fight, they can still show up and participate in the information war.
Good for them. And shame on us.
But I have hope this Memorial Day. I share the picture below because I love that a patriotic 'celebrity' such as General Flynn, was more excited to meet Leonard than vice versa. Leonard said he feels like "the belle at the ball" because everyone wants to talk to him here. He humbly joked that he doesn't even know how to turn on a computer, but was so giddy because they tell him how many hundreds of thousands of views he's getting in pictures and videos on social media.
We see you Leonard. We see you and we see the crosses at Arlington. We know what you did and why.
We fly the flag with pride and gratitude. We love the Constitution. We love freedom. We love the United States of America.
And we are going to carry this fight for you, and this country, with the wrath of hell upon our enemies, so that you can rest easy knowing your grandchildren's grandchildren will always know freedom.
God bless the soldiers of yesterday, today, and tomorrow