We Try To Ignore Christmas Hardships While Looking for Hope
I remember the Christmas when we had to purchase those little packs of birthday party gifts so we could have something to wrap for the kids. It was the only thing I could find for less than $2 that yielded six toys. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but Christmas hardships plague far too many families.
There’s one very special story about a young man who found hope during the Christmas season I want to share with you this year.
Now, more than ever before, we need to think about the sacrifices and blessings we experience as Americans this holiday season.
An American Hero
He was a senior in high school when I celebrated my seventh birthday.
This young man then graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1958 and was commissioned into the U. S. Navy.
By the time I started college, this fellow American had already been held by the Vietnamese for two years.
It was a difficult time. A friend was mortally injured in the war and his funeral was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to endure.
I’m sure the subject of this Christmas story wondered more than once during his captivity about why he didn’t die on that fateful day in 1967 when his plane was shot down over Hanoi in October 1967 during Operation Rolling Thunder.
The wounds he sustained would remain a challenge for the rest of his life.
John McCain was tortured during his captivity. The Vietnamese were relentless when it came to their barbaric treatment of this son and grandson of admirals.
One evening, during the Christmas season, John’s arms were bound tightly behind his back. He was left to suffer through the night.
Sometime during that night, a guard came into John’s room and loosened the bindings.
The same guard returned early the next morning, before the shift change in guards, and tightened the bindings again.
Later and just before Christmas, the POW’s were led out into a secured area for a little sunlight and exercise. The same guard slowly walked over to John. He never said a word as he took the toe of his boot and made the sign of the cross in the dirt. As quickly as he did it, he took his foot and removed the Christian symbol.
You can read more of Senator McCain’s story of captivity here.
Here’s the Christmas story in John’s words:
What kept John McCain alive during his years of captivity? (1967-1973) “Faith in God — Love of Family — Faith in Country kept him together.” Tommy Espinoza, POW.
And so it is during this Christmas Season, that I pray we each remember our duty to God, Family, and Country.
President Barack Obama read Hemingway’s words during Senator McCain’s funeral, from John’s favorite book: “Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today.”
The great power and blessings our forefathers bestowed on this nation carry with them a demand for even greater responsibility.
As Americans, we have a duty to inspire others.
This nation was built on a set of values universal to each man and woman.
We value human rights and the rule of law.
Most of us will never experience Christmas hardships to the extent Senator John McCain did. It is because of the differences that we’ve created a country that is unequaled in the world.
Someone said at his funeral that this country was not built by heroes, but by ordinary citizens. I think that’s the message Senator John McCain would want us to remember this holiday season.
Yes, John, we’ve all suffered Christmas hardships of one form or another, but it is the uncommon man who endures unimaginable abuse for the love of God, family, and country.
During this Christmas season, and into the coming year, we need to see Senator John McCain’s vision for compassion shared by all and promote his unyielding love for country.
“The world is a fine place and I very much hate leaving it.” Senator John McCain.
Yes, Senator McCain, we live in a country where anything is possible.