December 15, 2013
Remembering Our Armed Forces during the Holidays
By Elise Cooper
The holiday season should be a time of faith -- a time to show compassion for those in the military, as well as for their families. This is definitely the theme of three recent books: The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom, The Trident: The Forging and Reforging of a Navy Seal by Jason Redman, and American Heroes: On The Homefront: The Hearts Of Heroes by Oliver North with Bob Hamer. Throughout these books, the theme of hope and the belief in G-d is emphasized. American Thinker interviewed the authors about their books.
Oliver North's latest book shows how military families triumph over individual tragedies, as they learn to live with multiple handicaps. There are powerful pictures and a narrative that tells inspiring and compelling stories of those serving and their families. An especially aspect of the book is the pictures and the explanation of how one couple, Lindsey and Trey, spent the holidays at Bethesda Hospital -- a reminder that those defending us do not have the comforts of home. North writes, "She wasn't about to let the clouds of doubt and desperation darken the holidays. Using dental floss she hung ornaments throughout the room[.] ... On the door Lindsey displayed family pictures, Christmas cards, even a letter to Santa. Blown-up surgical gloves decorated a tree. Others on the floor followed suit and soon the rooms displayed the sights of the season."
As Americans celebrate the holiday season, Lieutenant Colonel North wants them to understand that "[t]his book is about celebration, not devastation. It's the love for their country, their family, and their faith. I hope Americans understand that all military families have anxiety, uncertainty, and pray that their loved one stays alive. They all know of people who had that chaplain walk up to their door with the news of a loved one paying the ultimate sacrifice. Even though only about 2% actually know the name of somebody serving, we as Americans need to relate to them -- especially this time of the year, when those of us who are safely home are focused on the holidays."
Jason Redman is a wounded warrior. In The Trident, he conveys his struggles, failures, and ultimate successes. The reader is able to go on a journey with him as he searches for a balance between arrogance and humility. Redman feels he is one of the lucky ones, since he was given many second chances, especially after being critically wounded in Iraq by insurgents in 2007. He suffered severe injuries to the left side of his face, including eye, nose, and cheekbone. Redman told American Thinker, "I had the luxury of facing death and coming back. With the help of my exceptional wife, I was able to reflect on my life and decide how I would live it. I conveyed that in the sign I wrote:
"'If you are coming into this room with sorrow or to feel sorry for my wounds, go elsewhere. The wounds I received I got in a job I love, doing it for people I love, done for the country I love...This room you are about to enter is a room of fun, optimism, and intense rapid regrowth...'"
Redman wishes for all Americans to understand that it was a miracle for him to survive and become a productive part of society. "I grew up in a very religious home and for a while pushed G-d away. I went through this phase: 'if you are for real, show me.' Well, that night I was injured on the battlefield, I called out to G-d -- and then, suddenly, despite my injuries, I was able to walk to the helicopter. As I was recovering, I looked back at my life and how I wanted to live it. I truly believe G-d gave me a chance to live two lives, and I want to share that with my fellow Americans."
The First Phone Call From Heaven is also an inspirational holiday book. This novel will touch anyone who has lost a loved one and wishes for a link with the afterlife. The plot centers on a small town on Lake Michigan, which gains notoriety when its citizens receive phone calls from their loved ones who have died, including an American soldier named Robbie. A powerful quote has Robbie stating, "There's no bad days here... It's awesome...if we knew what comes next, we never would have worried." Albom hopes that military families will take a little comfort in these scenes, since "they must always face the specter of death; it's always around. Maybe a loved one can believe that, somewhere, the person lost is alive. I believe there is a soul, that when a person dies they are not just gone. The greatest comfort a loved one can have is that the end is not the end."
These books are reminders that during this holiday season, as families gather together, they draw strength from one another -- yet some in the military and their loved ones can only pray for a safe return. Americans must not forget those military families who are unable to gather together for the holidays, as our protectors on the battlefield are miles away.