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.
As I travel, I enjoy working my way through various DVD series, both to enhance my knowledge of history and culture and to pass the seemingly endless airport and hotel hours. Recently, I watched an extended and detailed documentary that chronicled the day-by-day events of World War II. Through this engaging black and white film, I snuck behind the scenes in war rooms, watched Pearl Harbor tragically explode, re-engaged the horrors of the Holocaust, and rejoiced with VE Day and VJ Day, all from the comfort of my airplane seat.
It didn’t take long to clearly see why that group has often been called America’s greatest generation. The sacrifices, both on the fields of battle and back home in the plants that fueled America’s war machine, launched America from a distant bystander to the superpower status it has enjoyed ever since. Great nations are comprised of great people, and America clearly had millions of them.
Today, we seem much more focused on our individual rights and comfort. As I watched men charge through jungle terrain on Luzon and Burma or run through machine gun fire at Normandy, I found myself wondering if the masses of our generation would respond to Uncle Sam’s need with the same willing sacrifice.
Sacrifice and greatness are inexorably linked. You can’t have one without the other. Until you are willing to put the needs of others–family, friends, coworkers, and nation–ahead of your own, your life will never stand out, at least not for long.
Those who make a name for themselves do gain their proverbial fifteen minutes of fame. Your place on Forbes’ 500 will convince your mom and a few of her knitting buddies to buy copies of that magazine and celebrate your achievements. But the magazine puts out a new issue next month, and soon the evidence of your greatness starts yellowing around the edges. And your mom’s friends will donate it to a local paper drive in a few months.
Achieving for yourself builds no legacy. But achieving for the needs of others cements your name in their hearts for a long time. When you’re great for the needs of others, you will be long remembered.
That’s why a large crowd gathered in our local airport as a few aging war vets returned from a special trip to our nation’s capitol. Folks, young and old, stood waving flags at men they’ve never met and applauding as their heroics, recorded long ago on pages now yellowed, were rightly recognized once again.
Self-sacrifice is never forgotten.