The Defender and the Mender: A Veterans Day Tribute



by Ravi Zacharias
drop cap was speaking at a meeting recently and was packing my bags to leave when I received a message that a 97-year-old gentleman wished earnestly to speak to me. I made the time and we spent about 45 minutes together. I wasn’t expecting what he wanted to talk about. He is a veteran from the Second World War where he had led a company in the Pacific Theater. Anyone who has read the history of the war will know the brutality experienced there, often too savage to even think about. The movie Hacksaw Ridge well represents that horror. What was in the heart of this 97-year-old man? Guilt, pain, horror, and recurring nightmares from over seven decades ago. He wept and struggled and my heart reached out to him.

War is a horrible thing and scars a fighter for life. My father-in-law was a navigator and bombardier in that same war and also suffered nightmares all his post-war life. I have never been in the thick of battle but I have walked with chaplains in hospital wards, ministering to the wounded. That was painful enough. Both aggressors and those attacked looked equally beleaguered and broken. War can wipe out a person permanently, even if they physically survive. That is why the most difficult decision a leader ever makes is to commit troops anywhere.

But think about it. If there weren’t those who were willing to defend us against the attacker, which of us would still be here, free to live and raise our families with the eternal truths that forever draw us to do that which is right?

Interestingly, in the movie story (Hacksaw Ridge) a conscientious objector is determined to serve but will not bear arms. Based on a true story, one can imagine the tension within the ranks of those who were at risk and those who were there to serve but not to fight. As the saga unfolded, it became evident that each needed the other. Without the fighter, the unarmed could never have been defended and survived, and without his rescue, the injured soldier could never have been mended.

So it is in the real world. We need each other to stand together against those who would seek to harm us. On Veterans Day we salute our armed forces and those who care for them in hospitals and at home. They are the defenders and the menders. When life is threatened, we need the defender; when life has been shattered, we need the mender.

Thank you to our men and women in uniform. We thank you for your sacrifice and your willingness to lay down your lives for us. God bless you and your families.

It is a worthy reminder that the greatest war we face is within our own hearts. For that there is One who is both defender and mender, our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. He gave us the sword of the spirit, His Word, and the balm of restoration through His sacrifice. Even more, He has given us the armor to defend ourselves against the enemy of our souls.