From My Window on the World
by Mike Jacks
Once there were 16 million of them. Today only 4 million remain. They enter eternity at the rate of 1100 per day. Who are they? They are the boys that left farms, villages, and cities to enter the most devastating conflagration the world had ever experienced. They are the soldiers, sailors and airmen of WWII. As incredible as it may seem, it took 60 years before their country built a national monument to honor their sacrifices. There is no way of knowing how many lives were consumed by the war. It is estimated that between 50-75 million perished. That doesn’t count the number wounded. And what of the minds and spirits that were forever changed by the carnage they had seen? America alone lost over 400,000 men killed and 1 million wounded. The mind cannot grasp the amount of suffering those figures represent. How can we understand the death of millions when we can barely deal with the death of one? To me there is one image of the war that stands out from all the others. It isn’t the film of the attack on Pearl Harbor. It isn’t the picture of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima. And it isn’t the image of the mushroom shaped cloud over Hiroshima. It is the movie of one lone figure charging up the beaches of Normandy. As the camera looks toward the sea, we see the brave soldier surging forward. Suddenly he crumples to the sand, dead from the savagery of a Nazi bullet. Who was this man? Did he live on a farm or in a city? What was his family like? Did he have a sweetheart? Was he prepared to meet his Maker? We wonder. One solitary human, yet he represents so much. What might have been? What might he have done if he had survived? Who might be alive today because of him? We’ll never know. We Americans glory in our holidays. We lay flowers on graves during Memorial Day. We shoot off a few firecrackers on the 4th of July. And we congratulate ourselves on our patriotism. The soldier who comes back from war has an appreciation of the blessing of peace that a civilian will never understand. The boys who came back from WWII didn’t brag about their participation in it. They rebuilt their lives as best they could and spoke little about what they had seen. A little boy once asked his grandfather, “Were you a hero in the war, Grandpa?” The old man replied, “No, but I served in the company of heroes.” I submit to you that we live in the company of heroes today. We are surrounded by men who endured WWII. Rarely do we know of their service until they have marched into eternity. But what those silent heroes did changed the world. Once they were boys, now they are old men. We have never given them the honor due in recognition of their sacrifice.
So what is the legacy of WWII? Historians will continue to analyze the social, political, and material consequences of it. But the veteran knows the true cost. It is personal to each man. What would the world be like today if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan had been victorious? God only knows. And perhaps for our sanity it’s best that only He does know. The actions of American servicemen affected generations yet unborn. And that is the best legacy of all. When our son was in high school, he became friends with a foreign exchange student from Germany. The boy was polite, intelligent, and a pleasure to be around. Yet I couldn’t help but think that 60 years ago, these boys would have been wearing different uniforms and trying to kill each other. We thank God for that Band of Brothers who left these young men a better world.
Withstanding TemptationRead Article »
Mike lived in Jamestown, Ohio with his wife, Zane, and their children, Lindsay (23) and Kirk (20). Mike and his family were founding members of Transformation Christian Church, a newly formed simple church.
Mike went home to be with the Lord on February 1, 2017
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