Subject: America’s Marines – The Lord is their strength and their salvation
Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
In 1984, at 73 years old, Republican President Ronald Reagan received a letter from the Marines inviting him to enlist. The Corps loved their president. And he loved them. One of Reagan’s most famous quotes expressed how he much respect he had for the character of these men and women: “Some people wonder all their lives if they made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem.”
We honor our Marines during the 70th anniversary of the capture of Iwo Jima, which began on February 19 and ended on March 26. Although Iwo Jima is only eight square miles in size, it was the costliest battle in U.S. Marine Corps history, with over 23,000 of our Marines killed or injured. Historian Mark Grimsley wrote that “One out of every three Marines killed in the entire Pacific War lost his life on Iwo Jima.”
One of the most famous wartime photographs in history memorializes this battle and captures the courage and spirit of the Marines, as they raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi, the island’s highest point. As Americans, we are so thankful that God raises up such true freedom warriors. As our verse this week tells us, our Marines remind us of the warrior King David of Israel, the author of Psalm 27, who boldly proclaims that going into battle with the God of the Bible as his strength means there is no one to fear.
This attitude of God with them and their strength is the theme of ‘The Marine’s Prayer’. Here’s a section taken from Marion Sturkey’s ‘Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines’: “Almighty Father, whose command is over all and whose love never fails, make me aware of Thy presence and obedient to Thy will. Keep me true to my best self, guarding me against dishonesty in purpose and deed and helping me to live so that I can face my fellow Marines, my loved ones, and Thee without shame or fear. Protect my family. Give me the will to do the work of a Marine and to accept my share of responsibilities with vigor and enthusiasm. Keep me loyal and faithful to my superiors and to the duties my Country and the Marine Corps have entrusted to me. Help me to wear my uniform with dignity, and let it remind me daily of the traditions which I must uphold. If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith; if I am tempted, make me strong to resist; if I should miss the mark, give me courage to try again. Guide me with the light of truth and grant me wisdom by which I may understand the answer to my prayer.”
The battle for Iwo Jima was 1945 – seventy years ago. That battle was part of America’s response to what then Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt called “A day that will live in infamy”. Roosevelt’s speech, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, was listened to by 81% of Americans, the largest audience in US radio history. Thirty minutes after Roosevelt finished, the United States declared war on Japan. Judge Samuel Rosenman described the scene in Congress: “The new feeling of unity which suddenly welled up in the chamber on December 8, the common purpose behind the leadership of the President, the joint determination to see things through, was typical of what was taking place throughout the country.”
Its now February 2015, and there are 320 of our Unites States Marines at the Iraqi Al Asad air base, where they are training Iraqi troops to fight ISIS. Al Asad is only 5 miles from al-Baghdadi, where ISIS has now in control of al-Baghdadi and will soon be moving to attack our Marines at Al Asad in force. As Air Force Lt. General Tom McInerney said last week, “We have been given a warning signal, and we must take action.”
Unlike our response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, we have yet to declare war against Islamic Extremism. Our President won’t even call them by this name. But worse than this, our precious Marines are now directly in the path of this enemy who is closing in, intent to destroy them. President Obama must follow the Lt. General’s lead and ‘take action’.
But that doesn’t faze the demeanor of our Marines poised for battle at the Al Asad base. Again in the words of King David in Psalm 27:2-3 and 14, “When the wicked came against me, to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear. Though war should rise against me, in this I shall be confident. Wait on the Lord, and be of courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.”