Thursday, January 18, 2007

Tribute to My Uncle Chris and Those who have fought for Me

Above is a picture of the Florence American Cemetery in Italy. My Uncle Christopher is buried there along with 4,402 other soldiers who lost their lives liberating Italy from the Nazi's in World War II. Did you know there are American cemeteries for our war dead in France, Belgium, England, Panama, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, and Tunisia? There may be more I am not aware of (check out the American Battle Monuments site). The Florence cemetery, where my uncle is buried, is one of the smaller "monuments" to American war dead.

In a strange twist of fate, my grandparents, Cataldo and Sarafina, left Sicily in 1915 for a better life in America only to lose one of their sons back in Italy in 1944.

They chose to have Christopher buried in Florence. No family members had the ability to visit his resting place until my father and I travelled there in 2005, sixty-one years after my nineteen year old uncle died. It was a special and sacred time as Dad and I knelt at the cross of my uncle, as the first of kin representatives of the Felich family, to have a moment of tribute to my uncle and all those other fallen soldiers buried there and around the world. For me, it was also a time of reflection on the providence of God. Even the chaos of war is under the powerful hand of God and His mysterious workings. How radically different our world would be if the Allies had not defeated the Nazi war machine in World War II.

My visit to that hallowed site gave me a new appreciation for the sacrifices given so that I could live in a country like the United States. During the years 1910-1955 there was hardly a family in the United States that did not give one of their sons or daughters to the cause of freedom.

I know there is serious tension in our country over our current war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Honestly, as I analyze the wars we have been part of since World War II, I am not sure I see a compelling justification for our involvement except, maybe, for the first Gulf War in 1991. Hindsight is 20/20. The past is what it is, as they say. I am no expert on such things.

My focus today, thinking back to my trip with Dad to the Florence American Cemetery, is thanking those who are currently serving in the military and defending us. There are several in my church who have fought in the Middle East on my (your) behalf. Some of them will be serving second or third tours soon.

I want these people to know how much I personally appreciate what they are doing.

The debates about whether we should be in Iraq or anywhere else ought not cloud our appreciation and support for those people who are serving in those places right now. They are taking their place in the long heritage of courageous freedom fighters who, by the grace of God, have made our country a great place to live. I will admittedly spend lots of time calling our attention to the spiritual decadence that currently plagues our country, however, for today, take a moment and pray for our troops and their families. Because of them, we have the chance to debate, reflect, and blog on such things.


Kampfgruppe Hoppa said...

Normandy, France has one of the most beautiful and humbling cemeteries I have ever seen. There is no greater a call than to serve someone else above yourself, and it can be done in any vocation. I am thankful for people who support the armed forces! BTW-Did you know we've been fighting in Iraq for roughly 16 years?

AJF said...

That's a good reminder. Since 1991 we have had ongoing operations in Iraq. May God grant resolution soon and bring our troops home.

JON MEYERS said...

Often here in the US it is hard for us to imagine life without the freedoms that we do have. Even after serving in the Armed Forces, I find myself taking for granted the sacrifice made for the freedoms that my family and I enjoy. I hope I never take for granted the sacrifice Jesus made for me, the same way I take for granted these freedoms on this earth. Just got to keep my eyes on the things above, not the stuff that is here.

Frontier Forest said...

In gazing at Pastor Tony's moving picture, I view this Holy and scared ground with humble brokenness. Pastor Tony's father shared with our small group Bible study that when they were in the town, trying to find directions to the cemetery, most of the locals, didn't know were the cemetery was and those that did know hadn’t a clue that over 4,000 of America's bravest were buried there! What a shame to forget. May I never take for granted the freedoms ultimate sacrifice that so many paid on the battlefields. And most of all, may I never forget the ultimate sacrifice Jesus paid, just for me, on the cross.