When I was a young girl it was taboo to ask anyone who had been in "the war" about their experience. War was just a bad memory that happened on another shore, in another age in past tense, to be forgotten once back to homeland and family.
My brother and I knew that dad served in the navy and that he saw a "mushroom" cloud from the deck of his "boat" in the Pacific. We did once see a photograph of dad with palm trees and a large group of "island children" that he and his buddies had provided with food, but the island had no name and the ethnic origin of the children was a mystery. When we were older, and particularly when my brother began to serve in U.S. forces, a few stories from dad's military service began to leak out. My brother was more interested than me, however, and I can't say that I could even repeat any of them now.
If everyone who ever fought for freedom is a war hero, then of course I know that my dad is a hero. But there is something in addition about my dad that cannot be left out of defining him as a war hero. For as long as I can remember, my "daddy" has been a Soldier of the Cross. And though I am proud of him for serving the USA in the cause of freedom, I am also proud of him for his untiring service to Jesus Christ and his drive to spread the Gospel to all nations and all generations.
Soldiers of the Cross, like my dad, have been in difficult wars without bullets. They have skirmished with those who would have the church succumb to the whims of the world; the whims of Biblical Criticism or Darwinism; the seductive preaching of "other Gospels." And though wounded, and perhaps scarred, they still live to support the Church and her work.
On this Memorial Day weekend, we salute the men and women of this country who have served to ensure freedom for its citizens. Let us also thank God for the Soldiers of the Cross - all of the men and women who have fought ugly battles for the freedom to have access to the Word and Sacraments, taught and administered in their truth and purity!