July 18, 2005
Some Reflections from a Father to a
Son Entering Into Service of His Country
I wanted to take some time to write a short note to you on this the
day of your entry into the United States Navy.
Our country faces challenges — no, let me say it stronger— threats,
from within and from without, the likes of which it has never faced in its
225+ year history.
You have made a choice to serve your country, to embark on a career
in the Armed Forces of the United States of America. And I am very pleased,
proud even, as I and your friends and family see you off today as you begin
your Basic Training. My father served this country during World War II as a
Marine, you know. I was not able to serve due to physical limitations on my
vision, although I tried twice in my high school years to qualify for the
Air Force Academy.
In two months or so, you will be engaged in studies in the U.S.
Navy’s Nuclear Engineering program and you will face many challenges in the
coming years ahead. I am confident that you will overcome the challenges,
both academic and physical, that you will face. But the toughest challenge
will lie within, I think. And I speak not just of academics. I speak of faith and
trust, of confidence
I speak of
faith, not because you evidence a lack of
it. On the contrary, your faith in God forms the basis of your life, the
choices you have made, and the actions you take. But there will be many you
meet who have no such firm foundation. Some of these may be in command over
you; others may be in service under you. You are responsible for your own
faith. Keep true to her, son.
I speak of
trust, because the one follows the other.
One cannot walk by faith, as we have been exhorted to do, without an element
of trust. The writer of the New Testament letter to the Hebrews said it
well, don’t you think? “Now faith is the assurance of things we hope for,
the certainty of things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1—ISV)
I speak of
confidence, because unlike the world in which
we live, there are some things worth believing in, living for, and
dying for. Some have lost all hope, or indeed, never had any hope to begin
with. But your confidence comes from your faith and trust. They, as we see
from the Letter to the Hebrews, are based on assurances and certainties, not
on pipe dreams. Others have gone before you; they have fought the fight and
kept the faith. You will, too.
And finally, I speak of conscience,
because properly tuned, it can save you from untold problems. In his first
letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul told his young protégé that the goal of
his instruction was “love that flows from a pure heart, from a clear
conscience, and from a sincere faith.”
He also noted that “some people have left these qualities behind.”
(I Timothy 1:5-6—ISV) By ignoring their consciences, Paul went on to say
that “some people have destroyed their faith like a wrecked ship.” (1
Timothy 1:19—ISV) A seared conscience leads many into unspeakable horrors.
Just look at the face of our enemies.
Know this, son: You are responsible in your duties first to God,
second to your country as a servant to your Commander-in-Chief and to those
whom He has placed over and under you, and finally to your family and
Son, never forget this: you are entering the United States Armed
Services. Let’s look at these important words for a moment.
United States: The Grand Experiment — a democratic
republic. As Lincoln faced the American Civil War, he asked “…whether that
nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.”
Remember that at times, the United States may appear to be anything but
united in regards to the perils we face. But you already know the truth. You
were raised in it. You know the enemy that has besieged us. You have studied
Only a fool thinks that an aggressor can be talked out of his hatred and
killing. Appeasement never works. Ask an honest historian about Chamberlain
and Hitler. Appeasement to the politics of “Lebensraum” didn’t work in
Europe; it encouraged a devastating world war. Appeasement to the religion
of Islam won’t work, either. When will the politicians ever learn that only
by staying strong, and by demonstrating that strength through our
fully-supported Armed Forces can we dispel the threats that face not just
America, but the rest of the world? I pray that our leaders take heed before
it’s too late. If they don’t, we will replace them at the next election.
You are a servant. You answer to somebody. We all do. You answer to a
Commander-in-Chief. You know Him. Soon you will answer to another
Commander-in-Chief and a Commanding Officer whom you do not know. But they
will have been placed over you by God Himself, even if it doesn’t seem like
it at the time. Serve them as you serve your higher Commander-in-Chief.
Some men never speak of these things, to their detriment I think.
Some would deny them altogether, because ultimately, their God is
themselves. But you were not raised that way. And I am confident that you
will remain where you need to be—grounded in the “Faith of Our Fathers,
living still. We will be true to Thee ‘til death.”
You are greatly loved. And you are in God’s hands. You have taken
the best path. May God richly bless you and keep you, my beloved son. Your
sisters send their love.
If we are able, we will make our way down to the Carolinas to
complete my work there. That way, we will not be far should you need
anything the Navy cannot supply.