Historian and Author Tom Perry's thoughts on history and anything that comes to mind.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Love of Country

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

As we come upon the anniversary of September 11, 2001, I often think of Alan Jackson’s song "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?” I was in the Library of Virginia that day in Richmond researching the myriad of books I have published since that tragic day. I was getting a book at the circulation desk when I heard two of the women there discussing one of the buildings falling and I inquired of them what was going on. I quickly made my way to a computer terminal and found out in horror what was going on. That afternoon I left Richmond, where I spent most of my time then after a divorce, doing some consulting work, and dating a female Civil War reenactor. As I drove down 360 to 58, I listened to the coverage on the radio as I drove the nearly five hours back home.

            I sat down with my parents and watched the coverage the rest of the night into early the next day. As we approach that anniversary again, I think now of the men and women who fought the “War on Terror” and in some cases making the ultimate sacrifice for love of their country. In Patrick County, we have had many fight and lost two, Jonathan Bowling and Leevi Barnard. I have written many blogs about these two young men and a third Joshua B. Kerns, who lost both his legs and an arm. I never knew the two who died, but I knew members of their families. When J. B. Kerns was wounded, I made a point of visiting him at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D. C. When I see people complain or make “drama” on Facebook, I think of that day and shaking hands with that young Marine from Ararat, who looked me dead in the eye. I realized that most of us have nothing on the size of challenges that he has on a daily basis.

“One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One come he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love”
 – Pride (In The Name Of Love) Bono of U2

            Patrick County’s service in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the sacrifice made is noted. What I hope that the rest of us realize is what these young men did for our country and we take PRIDE that such men lived and still live among us.

Every generation has the opportunity to rise up to meet the crisis of their time. The men and women who fought and died in the Middle East are just as dead as the men from Bedford County who died on D-Day June 6, 1944, or the soldier of the 50th Virginia Infantry from Patrick County, who followed “Stonewall” Jackson at Chancellorsville in May 1863 or William Letcher, J. E. B. Stuart’s great-grandfather, who died at the hands of a pro-British Tory in what was then Henry County and now Patrick in August 1780 during the American Revolution. We should take PRIDE in all those who are willing to fight and die for us, their country.

“But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love”
–Alan Jackson’s "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?"

            While fanatics brought down the World Trade Center Towers and attacked The Pentagon, cleared eyed men brought them down such as the three young men mentioned above. I do not know their religious views, but if they were Christians, I hope the two of them who passed are now embraced by God’s Love and as Jackson sang that is the greatest love.

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