Veteran Lesson IV
Capt. Seth Keshel May 9, 2022
The Best Officers Go to the Sound of the Guns
Recruitment ads in 1917 America were often emblazoned with the slogan, “What did you do in the Great War, Grandpa?” This was done to appeal to the American spirit of the day, which was reluctant to back down to any challenge or any enemy, particularly those perceived as aggressors hellbent on world domination. As recruiters accurately predicted, red-blooded machismo sent young men scurrying for adventure across the nation, and eventually over the Atlantic Ocean to France.
General George Patton said, “Americans love to fight. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big-league ball players and the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser.”
Simply put, George Patton wanted to be the one to drive the Germans to Berlin, twice. He wanted to be the general with whom the fate of the war effort rested. He, along with other American war heroes like Washington, Jackson, Chamberlain, Roosevelt, and MacArthur, understood the same exact truth my own father told me – “the best officers go to the sound of the guns.”
There are always support positions in every battle or serious undertaking. Many famous athletes in the 20th century signed up to serve but did so by selling war bonds and cutting commercials. Financing a war machine is absolutely a critical task, but not one that is able to define a man as an indispensable leader like snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in a must-win conflict. The most critical leaders of all time are remembered for their respective roles in the heat of a battle, or in penning a signature on a document constituting “treason.”
In this lesson, I contend that all major challenges facing America will be resolved by the “generals” being at the heart of the solutions. Nothing great in history has been accomplished without catastrophic consequences being possible for the one waging the battle. Throughout the ages, consider the cost to Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Jr., William Wallace, the D-Day invasion force, George Washington and the Founders, the early Christian church, and of course, the architect of the Christian faith, Jesus Christ.
Many pray for the deliverance of America and a return to a just society but want to avoid the scrutiny and persecution that comes from standing up for truth in a society that has come to value comfort and propaganda, choosing easy wrongs over hard rights. If faith without works is dead (James 2:17), how can we expect God to answer a prayer to punish evil and deliver America if danger is not undertaken, and risk accepted?
Those who gain notoriety and come to the brink of impacting major change over a pillar of evil in modern society will face stiff opposition, particularly from the media, which seeks to perpetuate corruption and bury truth seekers under threat of intimidation, harassment, and doxing. Therefore, many choose to remain silent, hoping that another will rise and deliver the victory. In Scripture, Esther was charged with saving the Jewish people from extermination. She sensed her role in history, and was willing to do it, but Mordecai had this to say:
“…If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
Esther had guaranteed comfort, wealth, and prestige as queen of Persia. She could have chosen the easy wrong over the hard right, but did the opposite, saving the people and becoming lionized for all of history and known for bravery. Comfort will only last so long in this society, which passivity has robbed of its fighting spirit as we drift toward a nation that is nearly unrecognizable from its prestigious founding. Many enjoy an unprecedented quality of life thanks to our national prosperity gained during America’s period as the world’s superpower, and wrongly believe that same standard will automatically extend to posterity.
The lesson never changes throughout history. The best leaders go to where the action is, because that is where they make their lasting mark on society. Only those willing to step into a hot kitchen will be capable of delivering lasting impact.
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