General Snowden's Example for Us All

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America lost a great hero last week. Lt. General Lawrence Snowden died at the age of 95 on Saturday. Today, many people are gathering to honor his legacy. He was a highly decorated Marine Corps General who fought in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. No amount of tribute that I can offer with my feeble words can fully honor all that he achieved in his military career. He is a role model of self-sacrifice, humility and valiant leadership.

I have tremendous respect for all that he accomplished in his military career, and I’m truly in awe of what he did afterward:

Reunion of Honor video

 

In 1995, Lt. Gen. Snowden began organizing Reunion of Honor tours where survivors of the battle at Iwo Jima met to honor the sacrifice made by both sides.

I first saw a video about the Reunion of Honor tours when I was substitute teaching several years ago. I was so moved by the forgiveness and peace modeled by these great soldiers from Japan and America, that I cried in front of my class. I couldn’t even verbalize how much this impacted me. (Perhaps because of my own bitter battles with forgiveness!) Sadly, most of my students didn't think forgiveness like that was really possible. Without God at work through valiant leaders, it isn't.

These men in the video had once shot at each other. They saw horrors beyond anything I can imagine. They not only met and forgave each other, they honored the fallen on both sides. Even more astoundingly, many of them became friends.

General Snowden absolutely modeled what being a peacemaker (Matthew 5:9) is all about. He actively sought to make peace with his enemies through a noble ceremony of honoring the mutual loss both sides felt.

His example should inspire us all. And in the midst of the political turmoil in our country right now, frankly, his example should shame most of us who call ourselves Christians.

A lot of wrong has been done all around in the political realm of our nation. Media celebrities are riding high on waves of controversy. I fear where those waves may take us.

Our job as Christians is to show people a different way. We aren’t supposed to sit around passively hoping things will get better and patting ourselves on the back for not participating in the negativity. We are supposed to be actively making peace.

Making peace begins with God. It is hard to forgive a wrong. It takes work to not seek revenge. It takes God at work to actively seek to restore broken relationships with people who have wronged us in some way. Loving your enemy and seeking what is best for them is not a natural human response. Begin with praying for God to give you his eyes for your enemies.(Matthew 5:43-48)

Honor your enemy. The men in these videos ceremonially honored people who were once shooting at them! We claim to follow Jesus and can’t even have civil discourse on Facebook. We need to look at all people as inherently valuable, made in God’s image, and honor that they have real feelings and experiences that led them to where they are.

Actively seek to make things better. Unfortunately, we have had a lot of divisive protests in our country recently. They have led to arguments over the actual protests more than bringing attention to the real problems they represented. I believe as Christians, we need to have the wisdom to look beyond the media hype, and confrontational rhetoric to figure out where the real hurt is and actively engage in making things better.

 

I have incredibly strong political beliefs about policies, social and government issues, but they are secondary beliefs. My strongest belief is that Jesus is our hope.

My deepest desire as I write today is to offer a challenge for those of us who claim to follow Jesus:

May we honor the legacy of General Snowden’s heroic peace making by being peace makers in this great land that he and so many others fought for.

 

Blessings,

Cindy

 

Click on these links for more about General Snowden:

Tallahassee Journal article and an interview with General Snowden at age 95

Gen Snowden talks about the Battle of Iwo Jima and the Reunion of Honor

His book is available here:

Snowden's Story: One Marine's Indebtedness to the Corps