Yesterday I took my children to the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby for a field trip. In History the children have been studying about World War II. The exhibits were all very interesting. But one particular exhibit caught our attention. It was the display of The Bataan Death March. During WWII tens of thousands of American and Filipino soldiers were surrendered to Japanese forces. They were marched for days (over 65 miles) in the scorching heat through the Philippine jungles. Thousands died. Those who survived faced the hardships of prisoner war camp.
The reason for our interest was that last week my brother had just completed the Bataan Death March Marathon. One thing that he said really stuck out and I wanted to share it with you,
“Sometimes watching the news, I begin to wonder if there is anything good about America that is left. Attending an event like this leaves no doubt in your mind that there is a lot of good still left in America, you just have to look for it.”
For those of us who have studied the History of our great country and understand the Biblical foundations upon which this nation was built, it becomes very depressing to think about how far left we have come and where we are today. But, after talking to my brother about his experience, then touring the museum yesterday and reading about all the men and women who have defended this nation I was encouraged. I agree that we are no longer the godly nation we once were, but there is no doubt in my mind that there are still thousands of God fearing people in our country who believe in and stand for the truths found in scripture. We find them in the military serving because of their loyalty to what this country once stood for. We find them serving in the churches, preaching and teaching the Truth from scripture. We find them on the front lines, fighting the war on abortion, homosexuality and the destruction of marriage. We find them quietly working and providing for their families and teaching their children the ways of God. It’s easy to think as Elijah that “I, even I only, am left”. (I Kings 19:14) but there are still those who “have not bowed down”. We might not be the great nation we once were but there is still greatness left in this country. The reason is because God is Great and He has those who love Him and serve Him all throughout this country. Now is not the time to disengage from the culture and give up on what once was, now is the time to fight for what’s right, to stand up for God and His Word, to live a consistent life that is pleasing to the Lord and to remember that God is sovereign and to Him be all Honor and Glory.
Below is a copy of the email my brother sent about the marathon. I pray it will bless your heart as it did mine.
“1st of all I would like to thank each of you for the support you have given. I have received hundreds of encouraging e-mails, text messages and phone calls. There has been tremendous support and interest regarding the 20th annual Bataan Death March Memorial Marathon and the fund raising efforts for the Alzheimer’s Association.
What an amazing experience! Sunday, March 29 we arrived at White Sands Missile Range near Las Cruces, New Mexico at 5:30 a.m. There we joined over 5,300 participants and 1,500 support personnel and volunteers. This is a memorial event to honor WWII veterans and the survivors of the original Bataan Death March in 1942. During the opening ceremonies we honored the dozen survivors who were present, proudly wearing their medals.. The youngest was 86 years old with the oldest at 92, most were in wheelchairs or used canes or walkers. A huge American flag snapped in the wind, bagpipes played reveille, many of the participants were in fatigues and combat boots, there was no doubt that everyone there was proud to be an American. Sometimes watching the news, I begin to wonder if there is anything good about America that is left. Attending an event like this leaves no doubt in your mind that there is a lot of good still left in America, you just have to look for it.
On the flight down, I met a man named Kirk Bauer who is the Executive Director of Disabled Sports USA. Their motto is “If I can do this, I can do anything”. Kirk is a Vietnam veteran who lost his left leg in 1969 and who for the last 40 years has helped people with disabilities renew their lives through sports. His work through the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project teaches military veterans who have lost arms or legs how to ski, bicycle, play basketball, swim, run, etc. Kirk has worn a prosthetic leg since his injury, but in January, 2009 he broke the bone in his stump. Kirk had been on crutches for the last 8 weeks still training so that he could participate in this event. When asked why he was still planning on participating (he’s 61 years old), his reply was “How can I not do it?” He said that he is always telling disabled veterans to “adapt and overcome”, and that is what he had to do. I saw Kirk afterwards and he had completed the entire 15 mile honorary course on crutches with one leg. On both hands he had blisters on top of blisters, but he was smiling from ear to ear. What an inspiration! I don’t think I will be complaining about some aching muscles and a few blisters.
I had signed up for the civilian “heavy” category which is the 26.2 mile course carrying at least 35 pounds in a backpack, the course is through desert terrain with much of it uphill. This is done in part to experience some of what the survivors of the original march went through. My personal goal was to finish the marathon in 5 hours and 30 minutes, and I wanted to be a top 10 finisher in the heavy category. Thankfully, I was able to complete the course in 5:30:53 and finished 7th overall and 2nd in my age group (30-39) which qualified me for a medal. Many of our military veterans have suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Through this event we have raised some funds for Alzheimer’s support and research. 100% of all money raised has gone directly to the Mid-Missouri Alzheimer’s Association. Thanks so much to each of you who have contributed. If you have not had a chance and would still like to contribute to the Alzheimer’s Association you can go to http://www.alz.org/mid-missouri/in_my_community_16155.asp or you can print a donation form from the attachment and send a check to the address on the form. If you know of anyone who would like to hear about this or would like to help support Alzheimer’s research, please forward this to them. To read more about the Bataan Death March Memorial or to see photos and race results go to http://www.bataanmarch.com . Thank you, Dave McEntire