Like many, I was blessed to be with my family on Memorial Day. As I talked with my mother about the holiday, she reminded me of a story I heard years ago from one of my favorite family members, Uncle Jim. Though he rarely talked about his service in World War II, this was a story he did share.
In World War II he was an Army scout in Guam. During particularly vicious combat, U.S. personnel were forced to withdraw. My uncle had no choice but to leave a wounded friend in a fox hole, however, he promised to return under the cover of darkness.
The thought of returning for his friend weighed heavily on his mind. It was likely his friend was already dead or had been captured. If not, it was possible both he and his friend would die in a rescue attempt. Despite these concerns, when darkness fell, he made his way back to the fox hole. As he neared the location, he heard a whispered, “Jim, is that you?” His friend’s voice was one of the sweetest sounds he ever heard. Jim was immediately grateful he had kept his promise and did the right thing. My uncle and his friend crawled to safety. The wounded friend was treated and recovered.
To honor my uncle after his death, his wife, my Aunt Jen, wondered if the army would recognize her husband’s heroic action so many years later. She contacted the military and while they did not award him a medal for the rescue, he had been wounded in action and was awarded the Purple Heart.
My Uncle Jim’s heroic actions remind me of something Jesus said to his followers, “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12-13, NLT)
My uncle left the relative safety of being behind the battle line to rescue his injured friend and demonstrated his genuine love for him. He was willing to die for his fellow soldier. His unselfish bravery inspires me. You do not have to be on a battlefield to show you love others. Jesus demonstrated the truth of his sacrificial love when he gave his life for us. I am grateful for and inspired by my uncle’s heroism, but I am even more thankful Jesus sacrificed his life for us.