This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. (John 15:12-14 KJV)
Sunday morning our pastor asked his class if there were those who lost family members in war. My husband raised his hand and mentioned his brother Jack. The loss of a single soldier costs families their future. The death of John Clarence “Jack” Blickensderfer in World War II changed our family forever. It is in honor of his life and death that we personalize Memorial Day each year.
Jack’s parents adopted two young brothers. Babies are the first request for adoption so it’s fortunate to be adopted at age eight. For brothers 8 and 7 to be adopted together, the odds were astronomical following World War II. Yet my husband and his brother were – because two planes collided over Hoorn, Holland, July 7, 1944 during a bombing run to Germany. Because one young man, who knew he could be killed, joined with others to protect his nation and others from people determined to kill and enslave.
Jack was 19 when he enlisted. Before his 20th birthday he completed Army Air Corps training and was a Captain flying co-pilot for a B-17 Flying Fortress – not the Hilo Hattie, their plane was not available for the photo:
When his parents received word of his death, his father wrote a poem, “God Was Very Close Today.” Just a few years before, Jack’s grandfather had written in his will a note to his children:
To my dear family survivors; the greatest asset I can hand down to you is to commend you to the Lord Jesus Christ whom I have tried to serve from childhood. He is the only rock or foundation you can safely build or rely upon and you should love Him with all your might.
I, too, wish to pass down to my family that same thought that was given by our Father through His Son:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16-17 KJV)
Isaiah wrote of Him as seen by those who killed Him:
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:3-4 KJV)
We who love Him as Lord understand why:
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 KJV)
Today there are many in our nation who do not appear to understand or appreciate those we remember on Memorial Day. There are as many, or more, who do not understand God’s love that goes far beyond laying down a life for friends, but doing it for those who despise and reject.
It takes time to reflect and understand. I pray that time is taken and understanding is gained.