For Ross McGinnis

Today’s Review & Outlook feature in the Wall Street Journal featured a tribute to Army Private First Class Ross McGinnis.  Yesterday, his family received a posthumous Medal of Honor — only the fourth given to someone serving in this current war — for his bravery and selfless service to his fellow soldiers and to his country.

While he was in the gunner’s hatch of a Humvee, a grenade was thrown through the hatch.  Although he was in an opportune place to have jumped and saved himself, he chose, instead, to dive into the Humvee, cover the grenade with his body, and save the lives of the other four men in the vehicle.  Those four men were at the White House yesterday for the ceremony, along with Mr. McGinnis’ parents.

The story moved me to tears, and while it is such a frustratingly small thing for me to do in the face of such humbling self-sacrifice, I wanted to share the story here.  You can read the brief article yourself here: “A Man in Full.”  I do not think a WSJ subscription is required.

May we all continue to pray, as did our Lord and Savior, “Father, your Kingdom come.”  And, too, may we be reminded that until that prophesied time comes when no one will “hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain”  (Isa. 11:9) any one of us may be asked to give our all for others — as did Ross McGinnis.

6 thoughts on “For Ross McGinnis

  1. rakkav

    Wow. I suppose that men of such bravery have made their peace with whatever they believe will be their fate in the afterlife, long before they take such split-second action. I’m not sure I could make such a sacrifice on a moment’s notice. How would a materialist deal with such a situation?

  2. Brian

    The following is very blunt because there is blindness.

    So, a man sacrifices for his country- the USA- a country condemned by God for its sins and soon to be chastised. Sacrifice by first training to kill other human beings made in God’s image in an unjust war (unjust simply because God did not call for this war, human beings did). Sacrifice for error- albeit in ignorance, yet it is in error. Yes, we can admire committment and sacrifice- but in the context of human war? for error? the spirit of murder? The true chimes of freedom flash for those who choose NOT to war against another. Those are the people we should admire.

  3. I’m probably showing my age, but I served in the Army 35 years ago, and I understand his motivation.

    The soldiers around you are your buddies. They snore in bunks a few feet away from you. They go to the mess hall with you. They go to work with you. They take a ride into town with you. They’re there the next morning and the next morning. You’re around them 24 hours a day.

    That crucible produces an intense love/hate relationship. Saviano will stir his coffee exactly three times, then he will tap the cup exactly two times. You’ve seen him do that for three years straight. And you’re tired of it. You want to choke him out!

    At the same time he’s your “buddy.” And you would give your life’s blood for him. That’s exactly what McGinnis did.

    Can we take spiritual lessons from that?

  4. Steve: Thanks for your comments. I appreciate them and your sharing of your personal recollections.

    Brian: Thanks for your comment, as well. I have a few things to say in response, and I hope you will be able to take them as they are intended.

    First, I will not opine at length on the war here in this comment, because (A) it is beyond the scope of this post, (B) more than beyond its scope, the intended purpose of this post makes it an inappropriate place, and (C) the question of pacifism, the war, and how those who participate are to be judged admits of more subtlety than the comment space is suited for. I have discussed this topic before on an earlier post, “My struggle with the word ‘pacifist'”, 9/27/2007, and I would refer you to that post if you would like to discuss the topic. Also, I would refer you to the previous conversation you and I shared in the comments of my post of 3/26/2008, “BBC analysis: Limits of US power showing”, which you hopefully found educational. (I am tempted to request of you a list of the wars God has “called for” since 500 BC, but that also is beyond the scope and outside the nature of this post.)

    I will say that Mr. McGinnis’ sacrifice was not for error, as you too quickly dismiss it: It was to save the lives of his four friends. And if you think his final thought was, “I’ve got to save them so they can go out and kill more people later,” then I would say you do not have a grip on how real people think and what generally motivates actions such as his. I would recommend that you read Steve’s comment above for a more accurate perspective.

    If you think I speak in generalities, then I think that you and I must occupy the same room, as comments such as yours about “freedom flash[ing] for those who choose NOT to war against another”–taken at face value–equates the ignorant, godless pacifist (who would never agree to worship a God who describes Himself as a “man of war,” as He does in Ex. 15:3) with the true Christian objector (who believes in the promise/command of Exodus 14:14, “The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace”).

    Scripture says that the Gentiles sometimes are commended by God when they, even without the fullness of the law, act on elements of God’s law that are in their hearts by nature (cf. Romans 2:13-15). May we not follow our Father and commend also? If the presence of error in a man’s beliefs prevents me from praising his godly choices and selfless actions, then I could praise no man. Is this what God demands?

    We are instructed to give honor where honor is due in Romans 13—a section of Scripture noteworthy for not commenting at all about the corruption present in the government to which Paul is referring (a government which was as pagan as the day is long, by the way).

    Was Paul under the delusion that the Roman government was pure and godly? Hardly. But he understood the truth of Ecclesiastes 3:7 – that there is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.”

    Christ did, too. When commending the Roman centurion’s faith in Matthew 8 and Luke 7, He did not first inquire about the man’s stance on the wars of Rome or on whether the man conscientiously objected to the more violent necessities of his military duties. It was not the time nor was it the place nor was it necessary. He simply praised the man for a rare and godly quality and held him up as an example to others in this regard.

    In the case of Ross McGinnis, I hope you will be able to follow His example and appreciate the instance of “greater love” (cf. John 15:13) this young man exhibited in his final moments in this life, regardless of your political passions concerning this particular war or our common knowledge about the sorry state of this world and its means of solving problems.

    Thankfully, Mr. McGinnis will awake in a world that no longer experiences the ugly scourge of man’s wars—a world in which the presence of Jesus Christ on this earth will allow the swords to finally be beaten into plowshares (Isa. 2:3-4). And I pray—as I am sure you do—that day will come quickly.

    There is blindness, to be sure. And there may be beams lodged in eyes, as well. I will keep checking my eyes if you will do the same. 🙂

    My apologies for such a long comment, but I thought it a worthwhile point that needed to be made. Thanks for your comment, Brian!

  5. Deano

    Howdy Mr. Smith,

    I hope you and the family are doing well.

    I really like the new photo – kind of reminds me of what it might look like when Jesus Christ returns in power and glory.

    I like the comments on Mr. McGinnis as well.

    Have a great Holy Day weekend.


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