While it could be a children’s book, Josh was the protagonist of our Veteran’s Day program. The 26 year old former Navy Seal, and current UNL student and collegiate wrestler, delivered a delightful presentation to our children. And I must add our children were at their finest.
Josh hasn’t done a lot of school presentations, but came with his gear and a willingness to engage with the children. His ready smile made him very approachable to the children. About a dozen children put on the Seal gear as he explained each piece.
The children also lined up to ask questions. The teachers vetted the questions and “sent the best” to the front. The line of 35 or so children caused wonder in us as…..is this going to work, will there be time….but it worked out beautifully as Josh fielded the questions. My favorites were the tiny little girls asking the questions in their little high voices. Josh fielded them well giving developmentally appropriate answers to the K-4 audience in the first presentation and the 5-8 audience in the second.
A few virtues were evident in Josh’s presentation, which are beneficial to us all. First resiliency, training to be a seal is not an easy task. I was very surprised to hear that during the worst part of the training, when for a week they make the trainees life miserable in what seems to be every way possible, if a prospective seal quits, a warm blanket, a cup of coffee and a pat on the back are waiting. The scene provided living proof that they only want you in this group if you really want to be there. Josh said he was tempted, but remembered he wanted to be a Seal worse than he wanted that blanket and cup of coffee.
Josh had a lesson in fasting also. He said sometimes they ran out of food and water. He always gave primacy in packing to water. He said he could handle being hungry better than being thirsty. He had to learn to be without both sometimes. My fasts, wimpy though they be, can lead to greater freedom also.
Freedom, Josh said that it was so much easier for him to be a Seal than the men who were married and had kids. When the kids asked him how he felt before going on a deployment after all the training, he said he was excited and ready to go. He said he could see how hard it was for the guys with wives and kids that were left behind. (I’m probably about the age of Josh’s mom, and I’m sure she saw things a little differently than he did! But a mom is different from a wife. Josh had vocational freedom to truly be where he was sent.) Now I’m not against marriage in any way! But the freedom that Josh had to engage in his training and build the brotherhood with his cohorts…..you could see and hear it. At one point he spoke of making sure you do your job well, or it could cost the life of one of your comrades. I could hear the Gospel message in two ways. He was more concerned about them than he was about himself, “there is no greater love than to give your life for your friend.” The genuine self-forgetfulness evident gave inspiration.
Josh came to us through Terry Gillespie a friend of Chris Jacobsen. It is interesting how the good Lord knits us all together. Thank you Terry and Chris for helping the program take flesh.
We closed with a prayer for these men and the many who have gone before them.
Thank you for your service, Veterans! May the Good Lord bless you.