Sunday, February 20, 2011

Are There Any More Alvin Yorks?

Yesterday was a rather down day for me mentally. We all get this way at times and by the late afternoon I was feeling rather low. I rarely spend much time in front of the TV unless its football season or watching my three prime time talk shows [I rarely watch all three in one setting. Generally just one!]. Anyway, after sharing a delicious meal of hot dogs and fries [From our local "Hot Dog House"] with my son, I sat down in front of the tube to see if I could find something showing that would lift my spirits. To my delight I discovered the movie Sargent York was playing. This great epic film about this Tennessee hero starred Gary Cooper as York and Walter Brennan as his pastor. I can watch it over and over and it still inspires me.

Sargent Alvin York was a contradiction in terms throughout his life. To my knowledge, no other conscientious objector has ever been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor or even some of the lesser medals that York received as a result of his heroic actions in the Argonne Forest of World War One. Single handed, York captured 128 German soldiers, including 3 officers, killed about 25, and destroyed 16 machine gun posts. His act of bravery was so stunning that his commanding officer had him reenact each stage of it in order to complete the report to higher command. His actions were verified by the remaining men of his platoon [About six!].

The very fact that he was able to carry out this act caused his commander to ask the proverbial question "To what do you attribute your success?" Without batting an eyelash, York responded "The good Lord!"                                                      

When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt."

~ Deuteronomy 20:1 ~
This was the verse York had put at the beginning of his diary for the day of his heroic actions. Its unquestionable that the faith this man had in God carried him through. His response to the next question of his commander highlights the complexity of this great man of faith.

York's commander challenged him about his original claim that  he "didn't believe in no killin'". "I still don't" was York's response. He proceeded to tell his commander how the stopping of those guns and killing those twenty-five Germans in the end saved thousands of lives. "I aint proud of it but it had to be done so I did it", he proclaimed. An astonished officer was left nearly speechless.

Alvin York was not always a "religious" man, in fact prior to his conversion he was the devils delight. He was involved in every vice and was on his way to commit murder when he had his conversion experience. He knew both sides of good and evil
and when God presented him with the choice, he chose the side of good.  His turn around in his life prepared him to handle the difficult tasks that presented themselves to him in battle. He called upon God for direction and at all times, God responded. His Godly character inspired his men who trusted his leadership. By the way, he was not highly educated and his English was not that sophisticated. It just goes to show you that the measure of a man is not whether his office wall is plastered with sheepskins from the greatest institutes of higher learning but rather if the wall of his heart is coated and filled with the love of God.

Alvin York's love of God overflowed to his love of his fellow man. His fellow soldiers experienced as did the prisoners he captured. "No sense shootin' them now, they aint shooting at us", was his response to taking them back to a prison camp.

Today we have men and women fighting in battles all over the globe as well as on our own borders, even in our own cities. I'm sure among these brave souls are many Alvin York's but will anybody notice? Would they be given the acclaim by the public like York [Who so rightly deserved it!]? Or have we come to a place in our life where genuine Godly heroes are scoffed at as villains and losers are elevated to hero status? I pray not! Anyway, thank you Sargent York for continuing to inspire me to wonder, are there any more just like you? I pray there are!

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