To each of us is given a life. To live with honor and to pass on having left our mark, it is only essential that we do our part, that we leave our children strong. Nothing exists long when its time is past. Wealth is important only to the small of mind. The important thing is to do the best one can with what one has.”
–Louis L’Amour (Hondo)
“Therefore, fear the LORD and worship Him in sincerity and truth…. choose for yourselves today the one you will worship…. As for me and my family, we will worship Yahweh.”
–Joshua 24:14-15 (HCSB)
One of the “heroes” that I most respect is Robinson Risner. I am in awe of his service to our country. Most likely you have never heard of him–shame. You need to read his story, “The Passing of the Night”.
Risner was shot down while flying over North Vietnam in 1965 and was a prisoner of war (POW) until 1973. The beatings, torture and struggles he went through were unbelievable, yet he survived. There were struggles of body, mind, and spirit while he was in prison. One of the worst times for him was when he was put in darkness. He completely lost track of time. He said that he was not afraid of darkness but this time it would not leave. He wrote, “It was as if I had an animal on my back. Absolute panic had set in. The fact that I could not control this thing driving me or get rid of it caused me to be even more panic-stricken. I could not understand it, and I could not get rid of it.”
The only light he received was at a certain time of the day, for two hours the reflection of the sun came through a rathole and would shine on the end of his bunk. “I prayed. I ran. I exercised. I hollered and I cried, but I did not capitulate. I was hanging on like a man hanging on to a cliff by his fingernails.” He said he lived one minute at a time. He was in this condition for ten months.
He came up with four essentials that was practiced by the POWS. He said it had to be simple and strong. It has to set a strong foundation and definite boundaries (hmmm, quite different than the postmodern agenda of today).
1) We were American fight men, fighting the enemy of freedom and of our way of life. “As prisoners of war we did not stop fighting… All we had was our minds, our faith, our pride, our detemination–and our ‘Yankee ingenuity.'”
2) The second essential was duty to our country. “In prison we had a reappraisal of values. We had permitted the nuts and the kooks to make honest-to-goodness partiotism a dirty word… The flag, our President and what this country represents are things to stand up and be proud of.”
3) We believed the American people were behind us. “We knew America was not perfect, but we knew it was not anything like what they [communists] wanted us to believe. We knew it to be the best place on earth.” The news that was given to them was always tainted, twisted with an agenda behind it.
4) The most important–faith in God. Many had been too busy to put God first in their lives. The prison cell changed that. “We learned to feel at ease in talking about God, and we shared our doubts and faith. We prayed for one another and spent time praying together for all kinds of things. Our faith in God was an essential without which I for one could not have made it.”
Risner spent most of his time in solitary confinement, since he was one of the top-ranking men there. Seldom did he get to see another person. An amazing story, an amazing man. I had the opportunity to meet him once at a church service. It was a few years before he went to be with the Lord. One thing that you could feel coming from him was humility and courage. I would call him–extraordinary.
In the introduction to his book, Robinson Risner wrote, “I want to show that the smartest and the bravest rely on their faith in God and our way of life. I hope to show how that faith has been tried by fire–and never failed. I would like to say, ‘Don’t ever be ashamed of your faith, nor of your wonderful heritage. Be proud of those things which made American great and which can, with our help, be even greater.'”