The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been watching an extended series describing the events of WWII. Battle by battle, hero by hero, I have been immersed in the dramatic conflict that sought to remove fascism from Europe, the Pacific, and beyond. Now that the men and women who engaged this brave battle are in their final days, I know that the rest of us will desperately miss their character, their bravery, and their willing sacrifice for the good of our national ideals.
What do we show that kind of loyalty to? Are we committed to the same ideals of freedom? Would we willingly storm Normandy beaches amidst the hail of machine gun fire? Would we slog through the ankle deep mire of islands like Iwo Jima or Luzon? Would we run up barren hills and risk our lives for an acre of land whose only value can be found on a military map?
First, let me affirm my confidence that the men and women of our current military would say a resounding “Yes” and I fully believe them. In no way do my concerns about the rest of us reflect on their determination and bravery. I am completely convinced that they would receive such orders and act on them out of their amazing sense of duty. Heroes remain among us in this generation.
But, among the rest of us, modern ideals have shifted to individual rights rather than a sense of sacrifice for cause. Yes, when tragedies like 9-11 strike, we band together in remarkable ways, but when war rages on and losses of life mount, recent generations have been quick to withdraw support for our continued actions.
What made, and can still make, America great is that the people whom democracy allows to govern themselves willingly give themselves for the agenda of that democracy. There’s no king or tyrant at the top of our food chain forcing us to stand for his kingdom. Instead, we stand for our own, the “our” meaning all of us and not just my little slice of the American dream.
Such loyalty makes and will continue to make us great. When we live for ourselves, we create our own tyranny, placing ourselves on impenetrable thrones. But when we live for others, we prove perhaps the greatest expression of the human spirit.
So my hat is off and my head is bowed in respect to what some have called our greatest generation and to their descendants in uniform around our globe. But my heart is that each of us might reach for that same purposeful existence that elevates us to lives of meaning and good. May we treasure what they died for and give ourselves to its care, regardless of its personal cost.