Karla was truly a fixture in our town. She was born and raised there, got married and raised her own family there, helped all those she could, and served faithfully on the Sauerkraut Festival committee for decades.
One of her boys, Chad, was a classmate and friend of mine. He was always one of the most gracious and loving members of our class, and I remember often thinking how that was an extension of her overflowing love. She welcomed everyone to her home and table, even letting many stay a while as they needed, including many of her kids’ friends for a few days or weeks, and even some folks she’d not known much before giving them room. When I was a reporter and would visit her every year about that Sauerkraut Festival, she would pour out love and hospitality on me like I was one of her own kids.
She had so much love for all those around her that it was the overwhelming theme of her funeral Saturday morning. Cars were parked far down the street, and the church was packed, and love just filled that room and the many whose eyes welled with it.
Becky was long a coworker of Tracy’s at one medical practice and is again at another. Her daughter was a friend of ours at daycare, and although I have never known Becky well, I have always admired the love and dedication she demonstrated as a single mom. She always had joy, a friendly greeting, and a glowing smile whenever I saw her, and her daughter was always clearly well-cared for and surrounded by her mother’s love.
She and Selly married Saturday afternoon, and it was touching to see them show and others speak of how much they love each other and how that began. He seems a very good man, and we pray that their love continue to grow and deepen for many years.
Private First Class Desmond Doss was a man whose love of God made him promise to never touch a gun but whose love of his country caused him to enlist as a medic for World War II. His true story was told in the gritty 2016 film Hacksaw Ridge, which I watched tonight.
Harassed by his fellow recruits and the officers above them for his beliefs, he was nearly forced out but persevered.
“It isn’t right that other men should fight and die, that I would just be sitting at home safe. I need to serve. I got the energy and the passion to serve as a medic, right in the middle with the other guys. No less danger, just, while everybody else is taking life, I’m going to be saving it. With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it doesn’t seem like such a bad thing to me to wanna put a little bit of it back together,” Doss said at his court martial for refusing an order to use a rifle at training camp.
Viewed by others as a coward, at Iwo Jima, he stayed on a battlefield to help the wounded who hadn’t been able to retreat. Working alone but for God’s help, he saved 75 men while Japanese troops continued to patrol the area, shooting everyone they found alive. “Please Lord, help me get one more,” he kept praying. True to his beliefs and his promise to God, he never harmed anyone and even treated three Japanese soldiers he encountered.
For his actions on Hacksaw Ridge, Doss was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was the first conscientious objector to receive it.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”—John 15:9-17 (NIV)