One of my prized possessions is a helmet that belonged to my great uncle, Quincy Haynes Long. It sits on a bookshelf in my office. I bring it out each year at Memorial Day to share with my church family. Quincy was a tank commander in the European theatre during World War II. This helmet was sent home to my great grandparents along with his other belongings when Quincy gave his last full measure of devotion just three months shy of his twentieth birthday.
Nine months later, victory would be declared in Europe and four months after that in Japan. Yet when Quincy died, the outcome was uncertain. He was among 50 – 80 million who sacrificed their lives for liberty in that war, not ever knowing if victory would be theirs.
When these soldiers put on the uniform, they never knew if they would return home to family and friends. Quincy died a hero, never having married or brought children into this world. Yet he gave a precious gift to his family, some of which he would never meet. He bought freedom and liberty with his blood. Though I’ve never met my great-uncle, he is one of my heroes. He gave his life for something bigger than himself. He gave his all in faith, not knowing the outcome but believing the cause was just. A verse from the eleventh chapter of Hebrews comes to mind when I think of those like him who died serving in our armed forces.
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Hebrews 11:13
They died with faith that their cause was just and that the outcome was worth the sacrifice. They held in their hearts the conviction that Francis Scott Key penned in the final verse of the Star Spangled Banner.
“Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto — “In God is our trust”
Today, I am reminded of the value of a sacrifice for a cause greater than one’s self. Despite any desperate circumstances we may encounter, we must believe that tomorrow can be better than today. Success is the result of sacrifice and sacrifice is a virtue that belongs to those whose love and commitment shines brighter than personal ambition. This virtue shines the brightest when it is sparked by a faith in God that is reflected in the motto of our great nation and the State of Oho.
“In God We Trust” – The motto of the United States of America
“With God All Things Are Possible.” – The motto of the State of Ohio
My deepest respect and gratitude belongs to all those who made that ultimate sacrifice so that we might enjoy maximum liberty. Thank you, Uncle Quincy.