I am always amazed by the incredible stories I hear and people I meet during my book signings at the military installations I’ve visited recently. Like the WWII, Korea and Vietnam Vet who was 96 years young and still handing out great advice on life. He had flown in all three wars and was still leading by example.
The other day, while at Fort Gordon, I looked up from the book I was signing to see a young, fresh faced 23 year old soldier. I had no idea the experience I was about to have or the opportunity I was going to be given by God to take my new role as a writer a step further.
In those few minutes there was an exchange of viewpoints and belief systems that showed me just how much I need to share, not only the Steve Newman...the retired Sergeant, proud Special Forces soldier, and author, but also the humanity that was fostered by my life experiences in the Army. I looked up into the eyes of a man whose desire was to join Special Forces, but instead, he was going back home, to my home state of Oklahoma, to battle the big "C" (cancer): in hospice. Not just to Oklahoma, but to Lawton, Oklahoma which is near my home town.
He asked me, “Do you believe there is a Heaven?” I thought about it and a story came to mind. I told him about how one late night I couldn't sleep, so I turned on the TV to see Billy Graham answer that very question. I acknowledged that like Billy Graham, I believe in God and that Heaven is "Most assuredly real," and like in my book, going to Heaven is like, “Coming Home.”
I expect that over the next several months as the book tour continues, I will meet many young soldiers, and old veterans, not to mention many young people who are interested in talking to an "Ole" Sergeant to see if he will "Tell it like it is;" I will! Like the fresh faced 23 year old soldier, they will live in my memories, in my heart forever. That is what we do, we few, we band of brothers.
These days, many parents are encouraging their sons and daughters not to enlist because they are afraid, or perhaps closed minded about the positive aspects of service to our great nation. When asked, to the man or women, “Would you choose to serve again?” Over and over again I hear the same response, “Yes, absolutely yes, and I wouldn’t change a thing!” They always echo my exact sentiment.
Folks need to realize that enlisting in the military is not a suicidal impulse. Rather, enlisting to serve our great nations is a calling. Those who do enlist, do it out of patriotism, out of a desire to serve. A concept too few Americans have these days.
God bless our troops, those who have volunteered during a time of war knowing full well the hazards they may face.