35th Anniversary of Vietnam Wall

November 11, 2017, Veteran’s Day, yes, this day we remember those living among us! However, it is also a good time to remember those who paid the ultimate price or who has ‘reported to duty at The Eternal Gate’.

On October 17, 2017, during Brig. Gen Dale Hoover’s “Last Call” ceremony at the War Memorial in Amarillo, TX, the crowd was moved by the ‘Roll Call”. The speaker called the Veterans to attention, then proceeded to call some of their names out, ‘Corp. Joe Smith’, ‘Col John Jones’, and then called, ‘Gen Hoover’, silence; Gen. Dale Hoover, silence; then with a loud demanding voice, ‘Gen Lawrence Dale Hoover are you present?’. One of the men spoke up, ‘Sir, Gen Hoover has reported for duty at the eternal gate. Therefore, he is not among us’.

As I stood on the stage at the apex of the Vietnam Wall, mid 40’s, a heavy drizzle falling and the cold night air demanded our best and broken humility overtook us. As we trod through mud to get to the checkin station across the street there was a solemn attitude among all. Then to step to the microphone and began to read the names, men who had ‘reported to duty at the Eternal
The Reading Gate’ was overwhelming. This was M25’s second time to participate in the celebration of the Vietnam Wall, in 2012 we came for the 30th Anniversary and this week for the 35th Anniversary!

Rodney McCray, fellow Mission M25 minister traveled with me and read two nights later as people toiled through the reading of the 58,226 names, including eight women. The names will all be read before the end of the day on Friday, November 10. Another Mission M25 minister, Lee Thacker, a Vietnam Combat Veteran, read on Friday around the noon hour. It was moving as men and women, some on canes, walked to the podium and began to read their list, they would come to ‘and my Father’ or ‘and my husband’ or ‘and my best friend’ or etc. It was a heart wrenching honor to be present.

To be with us was Stephen Walker, aka Sgt Rock, from Amarillo, TX. Sgt Rock is a three time Purple Heart recipient from the Vietnam War but was sidetracked by a motorcycle wreck on November 2, 2017 in Brown Summit, NC. So, Rodney, aka ARod, read the 30 names he was to read. We stood at Panel 28W, had a moment of silence and laid the helmet from the motorcycle wreck below Line 35, Lt Stephen Doane, a man who died saving the life of Sgt
The helmet Rock on the battlefield. Why a helmet? Why lay it when Sgt Rock is still with us? In our hearts, we paused and thanked the sovereignty of God for sparing Sgt Rock in Vietnam and again in Brown Summit, NC.

May we never forget the sacrifice many have paid, are paying and will pay in the future for the great freedoms we enjoy. Yes, The Kingdom of God is first and foremost in our lives, however, if we lose this great country, many of our freedoms,
Stage at the Wall including the Freedom to Worship and follow our Lord as we chose could and very well be taken from us. HAPPY VETERANS DAY FROM MISSION M25.

This is all a continuation of the efforts throughout the year to say “Thanks” to those who stand in uniform for our freedoms. We have served Run For The Wall for thirteen years, the last twelve as hydration, chase and Chaplains. Many of our M25 Churches are having Veteran’s Day services, plus extra efforts such as banquets, motorcycle benefit rides and other ways to honor these great men and women.

Why would we do all of this? How does this ‘fit in our religious duties’? One of the greatest tools our Lord used to lead people to His Kingdom was sitting with and connecting to the pain in people’s lives. He took actions that was misunderstood, even looked down upon by society and the religious. He gave hope that someone cared and would go out of their way to show they cared, remember the story of the Good Samaritan? How many broken people have found hope and love because of this one story? We could list a host of examples of Jesus being Emmanuel (God with us) but we will conclude saying, ‘it is our hope that veterans will see a picture of us standing on a cold, rainy night, having traveled hundreds of miles out of our way, be away from our families, spend our money to say “Thank You” and find a drop of the healing waters of our Lord because someone cares’.

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