When I was eighteen years old, I was stationed in the US Army’s Presidential Honor Guard in Fort Myer, Virginia. Typical of a young man that age, I thought I knew it all. It was not until years later that I genuinely appreciated what I had been a part of and what I had seen. I was part of over six-hundred funerals in Arlington Cemetery serving on casket-bearing teams, firing parties, and marching platoons. At the time it was more of a job with some adventure mixed in.
Arlington Cemetery is truly a garden of stones, a garden that keeps growing as those who paid the last full measure of devotion rest among the shaded trees and quiet paths. Years later, I would grow to appreciate what an honor it was to have taken part in the rendering of their final military tribute, surrounded by friends and family, and sometimes surrounded by nobody else but our small team. Each of them was worthy of the honors bestowed upon them, and each of them rests in eternal glory still today.
Since that time, I completed twenty-eight years of military service and seven deployments overseas. I lost many friends and family to war and consoled the families of the Soldiers I commanded when they were killed. It is the most humbling experience of my life. Upon retirement, I became the Military Funeral Honors Coordinator for the State of Montana. I continued the tradition of honoring the veterans and their families for two years. I decided to do my best to live a life worthy of their sacrifice.
During those two years, America changed in ways many never foresaw. For all who thank veterans for their service, and those remembering the lost, please make the same decision – to live a life worthy of someone else’s sacrifice on your behalf.
1. Hug your family close, and guard them fiercely.
2. Pray for those who serve others in any capacity.
3. Protect children from those who seek their destruction.
4. Seek honest work and honest pay.
5. Go to a church that acknowledges the reality of God in all our lives.
6. Fight for liberty while you are at it.
7. Do not retire; rebrand instead.
What does it mean to rebrand? I can only provide a personal example and hope others will follow in whatever way God calls them to. Retirement came for me in 2019, and my goals were simple. To never leave Montana, to learn what it means to be a husband and father who does not leave for one-year deployments, to start a simple job, and to recover from the wounds of war that impact many who served in combat. My oath came calling when it became clear the United States was once again under attack. Tragically, the attack was as much from within as it was from the outside.
God called me to rebrand and do things I never intended or desired. My calling turned into several new endeavors. I Co-founded a nationwide non-profit called Restore Liberty that seeks to return America to its founding principles. I also founded a Global Veteran’s Coalition. I knew these efforts would open my family up to attack by those forces that would seek to destroy the greatest nation in history. For me, this is what it looks like to fulfill my oath and keep working to live a life worthy of the sacrifices so many have made for freedom and liberty. These are just a few examples of what can be done to stay in the fight for freedom.
Your calling may be different.
You might be called to step out from behind a pulpit and be one of today’s Black Robe Regiment pastors leading the fight against tyranny. You may be called to sacrifice a job and focus on raising a family or to homeschool free of government agendas. Rebranding looks different for each of us, and if you are one of those who spent a lifetime hoping to earn a quiet retirement, I ask you to consider that you are also needed to help save a nation as it slides rapidly down the slippery slope we were always told not to worry about.
Let us all spend this Memorial Day remembering the fallen, living worthy of their sacrifice, and thanking God each day that such men and women lived so we may live in peace. But let us also recognize that the liberty for which they gave their lives now rests in our hands. Let us not give up the fight because it is “too hard” or “too late” and instead be willing to lay down our own lives – to sacrifice those things we hold dear – so we too can count ourselves amongst heroes.
Win or lose, I know I only want to hear from God when He says, “Well done good and faithful servant,” and if necessary, as it is engraved on the Tomb of the Unknowns where I once also served, "Here rests in honored glory an American Soldier known but to God." For we should seek not recognition, only liberty for our nation and our families.
God Bless the fallen, may their sacrifices cause us to rise once again in defense of this great nation.