Last night the National Geographic Channel showed the documentary “Restrepo”, a year-in-the-life film about U.S. troops stationed in the Korengal in Afghanistan in 2007. One of the filmmakers, Tim Hetherington, was killed in Libya last week while filming troops there.
I have the utmost respect for our armed forces, the Intelligence Community, and all of those who are so willing to sacrifice for the freedom of others, and watching a film like “Restrepo” just reinforces that. Be warned: it is coarse and rough, with strong language and shocking violence. But that is the reality that our troops face everyday, and we do ourselves–and them–no favors when we whitewash it. We need to see what they go through on a daily basis so that we might better understand, and then minister to, those who endure so much for us.
A friend of mine from high school is married to Staff Sgt. John Shannon, the senior sniper of the Ghost Recon Platoon with the 1/503rd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division in Iraq who was grievously wounded in combat in 2004. His service medals tell the tale of the kind of man he is: Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal (x2), Army Achievement Medal (x4), Army Superior Unit Award, Army Good Conduct Medal (x4), National Defense Service Medal (x2), Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Services Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (x2), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Excellence in Competition Rifleman Badge, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge and Army Basic Recruiter Badge (Gold). In spite of a head injury that should have killed him, he and his wife Torrey have made it their life’s work to fight for other injured vets and their families. Even after such injuries, he continues to fight for others.
I wish I had the power and resources to help each of these wounded vets so that they never had to worry about medical treatments, psychological counseling, and financial struggles ever again, but I don’t. What I do have is the privilege and the power to pray for them, and I must never neglect that awesome responsibility. If men like John Shannon can continue to fight for what they believe in, what excuse do you and I have?