Korean War MemorialI like to remember a hero of mine on Memorial Day. He is a man that I am both proud of and impressed with. He is my father. He has been gone for 22 years this July, but I often think of him, and more often on days like today that are set aside to remember our soldiers. My father served in Korea in 1950. He served during some of the most difficult engagements of the Korean War, earning a Purple Heart. He was with the 1st Marine Infantry Regiment of the 1st Marine Division in theater from the landing at Inchon on September 15th until the march in and out the Chosin Reservoir and final evacuation on December 15th.

When I think of his time in the service, I can’t help but think of what his and his fellow soldiers sacrifice wrought for South Korea. Although that three month slot of time was not a long time it was a significant time for Korea as the communist invasion was halted and pushed back to north of the 38th parallel. It is not a stretch to imagine the North Korean communists and their communist Chinese allies bringing havoc on the people of South Korea as they have for the last 60 years on the North Koreans. In addition, they likely would have stifled and persecuted the church in South Korea just as the church in North Korea is persecuted today had these military campaigns failed to expel the communists.

The web site for Korea4expats says that “Christianity…. has continued to grow in South Korea and in the 1990’s surpassed Buddhism in terms of the number of adherents. Korea has the distinction of being the second highest exporter of missionaries in the world, after the United States. Evangelizing their brothers and sisters in the North is an important goal for many South Korean Christians, as is spreading Christian doctrine through good works in other parts of the world, as well as the other half of the peninsula.” (Korea4expats.com)

There are many reasons that I am proud of my father, he is my father after all, but his service in the Korean War brings me particular pride. What he and other Korean War Veterans did for the liberty of South Koreans and the South Korean church has provided benefits and blessings that have reverberated through the years both for the worldwide church and by extension for the world in general.

To me, this example of the efficacy of proper military intervention is only one of the more obvious examples, because with all of our faults, our country has generally been a force for good in the world. We have been liberators and not conquerors. We have been supporters of democracy and enemies to tyrants. We have enabled liberty and defeated oppressors. These are good things and you could legitimately call them God things since all good things come from the Father above. We owe a debt of gratitude because in all of these efforts our military has been a friend to the church. The friends of democracy and liberty and the enemies of tyrants and oppressors are friends to the church, which is usually the first casualty of tyrants.

From Europe and Japan after WWII to the South Koreans and to Iraqi and Afghanistan, many owe their freedom and their ability to worship to the work that you have done and are doing. So, I honor my father and I honor our military and as a Christian and a member of the church, I want to express gratitude for the work our veterans have done. You may not have had the church in mind but your willingness to sacrifice your lives has been a boon to the church in this country and around the world.

It is not the military for militaristic purposes that I am grateful but for the principals that they defend. This is not the Russian military or the Chinese military or even the French or English military. No disparagement to any individual soldier, but they do not specifically protect or defend the same principals our military does. Our military is the enforcement arm or the protection arm of the brilliance and the uniqueness of our founder’s idea of forming a country around the principals of personal liberty and religious freedom. For Veterans and active duty men and women alike, whom I personally know and know of, and for many I will forget to list, thank you:

John Malek – father

Len Spenler – father-in-law

Jack Campbell – uncle

Jon Samolinski – nephew

Robin Arp Samolinski

Joe Michigan – cousin

Chris Rumin – cousin (in-law)

Dick Wilson

Chet Thomas

Quint Coppi

Kyle Kronberg

Ben Clough

Adam Herold – (KIA)

Ken Smith

Vanessa Hunter

Konstantin Gazaryan

For the many times you might be taken for granted or be disrespected because we think all war is evil, I want to add my voice in telling you, our country and the church owe you a great debt of gratitude. Thank you again.