Reflections by Matt Oser
While in college in the early 2000’s I worked at a grocery store with a rather rough, calloused, and quiet individual. He had every habit that a good Christian college student was told to avoid. I tried to strike up conversation with him, but to no avail. My only clue to his backstory was his black leather jacket with the POW/MIA emblem on the back. One day I stopped him and timidly said “I want to thank you for your service in Vietnam.” I stood amazed as he told me through tears that in the 30 years since he came home from Vietnam, I was the first person to ever say that to him. He immediately added, “The ones who really deserve your thanks never came home.”
We find similar sentiments over 500 years ago in Adages, a collection of proverbs put together by the reformer and humanist Erasmus (1466–1536) and published in many editions throughout his life: “War is sweet to those who have not experienced it” (Dulce bellum inexpertis). We owe many other common sayings of today to the book: from “a necessary evil” to “the cart before the horse” to “calling a spade a spade.” And whatever nameless soldier came up with the proverb quoted above, it rings true to the human experience of war through the ages.
I have had the privilege to minister to and alongside many veterans. Whether they fought in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan, I have noticed that they do not desire to retell their stories or to be lauded as heroes. Often their desire is for us to simply say, “Thank you” and to continue to cherish the freedoms that their fallen comrades provided to us through their ultimate sacrifice.
This Memorial Day, take some time to thank a Veteran and honor the memory of those who never came home.
Matt Oser is Vice President of Marketing at Vision Video
Our recent Christian History magazine, Faith in the Foxholes, shares stories of the faithful during World Wars I and II. We’ve also done issues on the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. One day we hope to also cover more recent conflicts.