We gratefully remember
Sunday, November 11, was Veterans Day (Remembrance Day in Canada). It is a day when we gratefully remember all our Veterans who have faithfully served in our nation's Armed Forces. I never had the privilege to serve in our nation's military but I proudly remember all those who did.
On a day like November 11, my wife Miriam and I feel a certain pride that three of her uncles, Carl, Paul, and Reuben Baganz, all served in the United States military during World War II. Unassuming Carl served in the Army in the Pacific Theater in four campaigns including Okinawa and the Aleutian Islands. He was awarded several medals including the Bronze Star.
Paul served in the Air Force during the war in the Pacific as a navigator on a B-17. He was awarded the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross, flying 31 combat missions and over 200 hours of combat duty. He was credited with saving the lives of his fellow crewmen when he directed their crippled aircraft to a safe landing on a friendly island after several attacks by enemy fighter planes.
And then there was Reuben, the youngest of the four Baganz brothers, who just 19 years old when his B-17 bomber was shot down on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1944. They were assigned the destruction of an airfield where Nazi fighter planes were based. It was during the Battle of the Bulge. He was a ball turret gunner and went down with the plane. His untimely death brought much grief to his family, especially his parents.
But wait, didn't I say there were four brothers? Yes. The oldest of the four Baganz brothers was Ted (Theophil). He was Miriam's dad, my father-in-law, and my number one mentor. He taught me more about the ministry, preaching, and radio ministry than years of seminary training.
He wanted to become a radio announcer but instead went to the seminary and became a minister. His desire to speak over the radio, however, paid big dividends. He preached over the radio every week for something like 50 years even long after his retirement.
You might question whether Ted qualifies as a candidate to be recognized on Veterans Day. I say, "Yes." He is a veteran in a different kind of army, the kind we sing about in famous Christian hymns like:
"Stand up! Stand up for Jesus, Ye soldiers of the Cross!" and ”Onward, Christian soldiers, Marching as to war, With the cross of Jesus Going on before."
At the end of WW II Rev. Theophil Baganz conducted religious services in the German language for German prisoners of war. They were being held in camps in Wisconsin near where he lived.
In a sense, aren't all Christians soldiers serving in the Lord's army? Do you consider yourself a soldier of the cross willing to put your life on the line for your beliefs?
Ten years ago a Christian high school student named Cassie Bernall did exactly that. The deranged shooter at Colombine High School in Littleton, Colorado held a gun to Cassie's head and asked if she believed in God? Her answer, "Yes, I believe in God." Bang! She died a soldier of the cross!
Any service medals? Our Commander-in-Chief says, "Be faithful even to the point of death and I will give you the crown of life." (Revelation 2:10)
God bless all our veterans and God bless you!