Lessons in Faith from <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Iwo Jima
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While we have been busy fretting over Hollywood's latest releases to mock the traditional family, quietly a documentary has been released which chronicles the lessons of heroism, and the faithful legacies passed from our WWII veterans to their families.
The documentary, "The League of Grateful Sons," is produced by Vision Forum Ministries and directed by Geoff Botkin. The film, focusing on the battle of Iwo Jima, recently premiered on board the U.S.S. Missouri, the very location where the treaty was signed which ended WWII. Once a year the island of Iwo is opened to Americans to visit. Last March, in honor of the 60th anniversary of the battle of Iwo Jima, Vision Forum as part of their Faith of The Fathers Project, assembled over eighty veterans as they journeyed to the island with their sons and their grandsons.
John Butler, Jr and his brother Clinton journeyed to Iwo Jima to honor the memory and legacy of their father, Lt. Col John A. Butler. Their father, a marine battalion commander was killed in action Mar. 5th, 1945 after heroic leadership and sacrifice during one of the bloodiest conflicts of the War. Their memory of their father was captured through personal letters that their father had written Johnny Boy encouraging him to help his mother, and to be the man of the house. This was the final letter from his father the day before Iwo:
February 18, 1945
Dear Johnny Boy:
Tomorrow morning Dad is going to play war with all his strength, so that Mommy can sing to you "A Wee Little Lad" and mean every word of it.
Red will be right along side Dad. You would laugh to see the way we are dressed. I am carrying so many guns, and they are sticking out on all sides.
As the man of the house, Dad is counting on you to continue in helping Mom in every way.
When I come home, I will have many stories to tell you about those ships and planes and jeeps and trucks.
Thanks for praying for Dad.
Your Proud Dad (The Family Vision, Vol. 1., Issue 2 May/June)
Col. Bill Henderson, a member of the 5th division, survived all 36 days of combat on the volcanic island. Colonel Henderson, now 82 years old had to have 4 marines carry him to the beaches of Iwo with his family. The driving force behind his valor and his courage were in his words, "never wanting to do anything to disappoint his father." Colonel Henderson has dedicated the rest of his life to telling the faithfulness of God to the next generation. He surrendered his life to Christ when he was 5 years old, and admits that in 77 years God has showed himself faithful, even through the horrors and nightmare of his youth on Iwo.
There is sometimes a disconnect between the fathers who fought in WWII, and their families. Many did not know how to process the brutalities and rigors of war and many have stayed silent. While thought to be dead after being shot down over Tokyo Bay, 2nd Lt. Bill Brown returned with his son Scott Brown, his granddaughter, and grandson to speak of the providences and faithfulness of God. He served as a P-51 Mustang pilot who flew escort missions to Iwo Jima. Mr. Brown has spent his life telling his family about God's faithfulness in his life. As he returned to Iwo Jima, he read to his family on top of Mt. Suribachi from the same Bible he had read 60 years earlier in a foxhole. His son and grandchildren were able to walk in the footsteps of their faithful father.
Lt. Leonard Isacks Jr. enlisted when he was 32 years old and left a profitable position with the Firestone Company. Lt. Isack's son had wanted to travel to Iwo Jima to honor his father but died before getting a chance to return, to walk where his father walked. His grandsons went in his place to honor their memory of both their father and their fallen grandfather. Lt. Isacks memory lives on through over 1200 pages of letters that Lt. Isacks had written to his wife, and through the histories, and stories that the Isack brothers are now telling.
We must tell their stories. We must inquire of our fathers, and ask them to tell us their stories.
The great lessons of the WWII generation and Iwo Jima demonstrate perseverance against impossible odds, and the importance of remembering and honoring in the context of the fifth commandment, those who fought so that their posterity could be free.
The words of executive producer Doug Phillips, serve as a stark reminder of our duty to those who come after us, "Fathers will teach the next generation, or they will lose the next generation. Fathers will speak to the next generation about the many providences of God in protecting and preserving them, or the next generation will be without hope. God will not be mocked: We will either walk beside our sons and teach them to honor their fathers, or there will be no nation for America to defend." (The Family Vision, Vol. 1., Issue 2 May/June)
By God's grace, may we pick up the mantle of our faithful fathers and carry it on.
Nicholas A. Jackson
League of Grateful Sons Movie Website
Independent Christian Films
Vision Forum Ministries
Nick is Executive Director of Reform America, a non-profit Christian organization based in Columbus, OH. In addition, he spends time as a free-lance writer articulating the Christian viewpoint into our culture. "And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in." Isaiah 58:12
Website: www.reformamerica.com Email: email@example.com
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