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Greater Love Hath No Man...

May 28, 2007
S. Michael Craven
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My 15-year-old son played in the Home School World Series held in Pensacola, Florida this past week. Unfortunately, his team, the Dallas Angels, suffered a heartbreaking eighth-inning loss in the semi-final game to finish third in the tournament. Culled from regional tournaments--eight home school varsity teams competed in Florida for the championship. Begun in 2000, the Home School World series boasts an impressive alumnus. Many former players have gone on to play at the collegiate level and some have even gone on to play in the Majors. However, there is one young man, in particular, who has risen above them all: Ryan Adam Miller from Pearland, Texas, a suburb of Houston.

Ryan played in the 2004 Home School World Series with the Houston Eagles. Unlike many former players, Ryan was unable to continue his baseball career because on his 18th birthday he entered the United States Marine Corps. Despite the fact that Ryan was eligible to play another year of High School baseball, he felt a strong need to graduate early so he could enlist in the Marines like his father and grandfather before him.

On September 14, 2006, Lance Corporal Ryan Adam Miller, age 19, was killed in action while serving near Barwanah, Iraq.  The son of two retired Houston police officers, Ryan had planned on following his parents into police work upon discharge from the Marine Corps—another indication of Ryan’s sense of selfless duty and commitment. The brief memorial on the Home School World Series website reports that “Ryan and his squad were returning to base when an insurgent detonated an explosive device. Ryan was hit by shrapnel. He never cried out or said a word but continued to walk for another 5 meters, then collapsed, as he was already in the presence of the Lord.” While I did not know this young man personally, every report indicates that he was a man of sincere faith, strong convictions, and gallant courage.  

For more than two centuries America has produced generation after generation of young men like Ryan Miller (and yes, some women) who have responded to the call to give their lives in the cause of liberty.

Despite the growing number of their contemporaries, who are so often narcissistic and careless in the cultivation of any virtue, we continue to produce remarkable young men and women like Ryan. They predominantly come from small towns and middle to lower working class families. They, in general, have not been to college [yet] although they average higher scores than their civilian counterparts in both intelligence and aptitude tests. They average nineteen years of age and remain idealistic about such things as duty, honor, and country. In the grand scheme of things they represent the very best of America.

I myself served alongside them in the U.S. Navy some twenty-three years ago. I remember, even as a very young man myself, being deeply impressed by the dedication and character that was common to so many. It was the first environment where I encountered genuine idealism of a noble and selfless nature.

It is an amazing fact when you consider that the most powerful military force in the history of the world is comprised entirely of volunteers! These are men and women, who have, by their own free choice, set aside their personal freedom and dedicated themselves to serving a higher purpose: justice and liberty.

It is this attitude of self-sacrifice for the greater good or “other-centeredness” that is absolutely essential to the strength and longevity of any society. If we as a nation continue to neglect the cultivation of true virtue among young people and instead immerse them in a culture which only encourages their most sensate and base desires, we will, in time, see such noble men and women disappear. Simply put, there will be none willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in defense of “ideals” for they will not care about such things because they were not taught too.
I have watched with amazement and awe how our young people have conducted themselves most recently in Afghanistan and Iraq. Sure there have been some “bad apples” but this is inevitable among the hundreds of thousands of people represented. However, the overall conduct of American military forces is both admirable and impressive. The juxtaposition of overwhelming military power with compassionate aid and caring is inspiring. This is not typical of military institutions throughout history or even those operating in the world today. This compassion is personal and individual within an institution that by its very definition represents brute lethal force. This remains one of the more obvious residual effects of the historical Christian influence on Western civilization.

(Military establishments outside the West do not invest billions of dollars creating “smart bombs” in order to minimize civilian casualties or have “rules of engagement.” Other cultures care little about such things and some even target non-combatants as an “acceptable” tactic in warfare. But I digress.)

This Memorial Day I encourage us all to pay homage to those who have given all they have for the un-merited benefit of so many. To Ryan Miller and so many others, we owe a great debt, which we can only pay in remembrance. One of the ways we remember them is to preserve the ideals and values which they fought to defend and pass them along to our children. Secondly, we teach them to remember those who have given so much for their benefit.

In the same way we also remember the One who gave of Himself for the “un-merited benefit of so many.” To Him our debt we cannot pay so instead we surrender the entirety of our being to Him and cast ourselves upon His redeeming work and amazing grace. If we truly honor Christ as Lord then we will pass His “ideals and values” on to our children and teach them to remember His great sacrifice for them. The responsibility for transmitting truth and virtue from one generation to the next lies in the hands of the passing generation. May we be faithful in both instances!

© 2007 by S. Michael Craven 

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Response from : Marine Mom  

May 27, 2007 7:30 AM

As my son is on his way home from Iraq, I thank God for his safe return. I pray that God's love will be felt by the families of those who have lost a loved one. It is heartening to read this positive article on our military. Today and always, let us remember those who have given so much to protect us. God Bless our Troops!

Response from : Grace  

May 27, 2007 1:52 PM

This article was amazing. So inspiring and necessary for us to read today. We need to be reminded of the genuine good that results from a nation that has roots in honoring Christ.

Response from : Aaron Fenley  

May 28, 2007 7:46 AM

Ryan Miller undoubtedly had the best of home training. It is my prayer that we can all adoubt this mindset of other-centeredness. Thank you for this article, it reminds me of my duty as a father of 3 boys, what virtues I ought to be cultivating in them.

Response from : paul short  

May 28, 2007 4:41 PM

Yes as a retired military man it is remarkable that our all volunteer military is the strongest in the world. But let's be frank--most of the people signed up not to die for their country but to better themselves or learn what they want to do in their lives. That's not to say they are not heroic. I admire and support them wholeheartedly. Here's the problem, tho. Leadership from very top has let them down. Yes or glorious commander in chief, the decider himself who shirked the easiest national guard duty his papa could arrange for him, is no friend of the military by putting the USA into the most immoral war of our time. He's no christian and those that support this war and this corrupt administration are guilty of complicity.

Response from : Jeff Nixon  

May 29, 2007 11:33 AM

Michael, I couldn't agree with you more. We have a military with men and women who aspire to good things, even if it is in addition to betting myself. My oldest son completed 3 years of college and is in Germany awaiting his deployment to Iraq in October. He has found an opportunity to be salt and light to young men who are either agnostic or atagnostic to the Gospel. His desire is to be Christ's Ambassador for the 15 months he is in Iraq and then hopes to enter seminary to become an Army Chaplain. There are many worthy mission fields but reaching young men for Christ who may not come home, may be one of the most pressing.

Response from : cathy hutchens  

May 31, 2007 2:34 AM

Thank you for your artical. My husband is curently in Iraq. It seems as if most of America has forgotten we are at war. He may not of "signed up to die" but we live with death as a daily reality. Fourty guys from his BDG have died in the eight months they have been gone. The idea that "people sign up to bettar themselves" honestly hurts my heart. My husband is a hard working, intellagent, godly man who could do another job. This is our third deployment. This one is fifteen months long. We survive because we know that God has called my husband to serve in the Army.

Response from : Bee  

June 17, 2007 4:59 PM

we owe our men and women our deepest respect and gratitude for everything they do.

Response from : Angie  

May 26, 2009 8:40 AM

This article was beautiful. Daughter of a retired USAF Col. sister to an Army Ranger/USAF Spec. Ops and cousin of a USAF pilot. I posted this to my facebook page. Did I mention that I am home schooling my son and daughter? Very inspiring. Thank you.


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