This weekend we are called upon to remember the sacrifices of those multitudes in the armed services who have given their lives in the past in the defense of liberty. It has also become a time to give honor to all who have or who are serving our country in the military.
It’s a time for stories of courage. One such account concerns a Viet Nam war POW by the name of Mike Christian. Raised in the country near Selma Alabama, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy at 17, and earned a commission as a Naval Flight Officer. He was shot down and captured by the Viet Cong in 1967. He was interred in the same prison camp as John McCain was.
The prisoners received a Red Cross package that had some items such as socks and handkerchiefs in it. He fashioned a sewing needle from a section of bamboo. Over a period of a couple of months he created an American flag and sewed it into the inside sleeve of his shirt. Each afternoon, in their cell, the prisoners would repeat the pledge of allegiance while they stood facing the flag, which was Mike’s shirt, flag-side-out, hung on the wall.
The flag was discovered by a guard during a surprise search, and removed. That evening several Viet Cong entered the cell and led Mike Christian outside, proceeding to beat him severely, in the sight of all the prisoners. The punishment lasted about two hours. He was dragged back in and dropped on the floor of the cell, where the other men cleaned him up as best they could.
McCain relates the following: “After the excitement died down, I laid down on the concrete slab in the center of the room where we all slept. I noticed in the corner of the room, sitting there beneath that dim light bulb with a piece of red cloth a piece of white cloth, another shirt, and his bamboo needle, was Mike Christian. He as sitting there, with his eyes nearly swollen shut from his beating…making another American flag.”
Those who have better learned to appreciate the liberty we have enjoyed in the past are better prepared to preserve that liberty in the future.
On a higher and nobler plane, we who have been granted the liberty bought by the precious blood of our Saviour’s sacrifice, ought to be able to display a devotion to the cross of Christ that rivals Mike Christian’s commitment to the flag.