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My warmest appreciation to members and veterans of our Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, National Guard and Coast Guard. Your willingness to serve and sacrifice often at the risk of your lives makes you truly special Americans to not only be cherished but appreciated daily.

With Veterans Day hours away, it struck me as an ideal time to share Rev. Dr. Jim Robnolt's GodNod that unfolded when he was serving as a battalion chaplain during the Vietnam War. Robnolt, a resident of Sherwood, served on active duty in the U.S. Army between 1968 and 1993.

He said recent columns wherein readers have shared their own unusual experiences attributed to divine intervention inspired him to share his account.

"I am not a stranger to the profound nudges from God," he told me. "As a preacher and pastor since my licensing in 1954, there have been many. No less so than the years I served as an active duty U.S. Army chaplain."

His second assignment in the Army was as chaplain for an engineer battalion in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, he said. "The battalion had two base camps, one with the headquarters and a second with two line companies. It was my routine to provide worship and 'see the chaplain' conversations with soldiers."

As a rule, Rev. Nobholt tried to visit the two company locations any time there had been significant and frequent contact with the North Vietnamese.

"At the staff briefing one morning we were told the other compound had been hit heavily with mortar and automatic weapons fire. After the briefing, I latched on to a convoy that was headed there.

"When I arrived, the commander and first sergeant showed me the damages. I had removed my flak vest, steel pot and web gear for the walk. We had just poured ourselves coffee when there was a new barrage of mortars and the chatter of small arms."

Their belongings lay on a bed in the officer's bunker. "The commander and other officers made a mad dash for the bunker to retrieve their gear," he said. "The commander and executive officer had departed when I was about to head out of our bunker along with a platoon leader. I suddenly received this unspoken--yet urgent--message that said, "wait, grab him!"

"I immediately grabbed the back of his flak vest's neck and yelled 'wait!' At that moment a mortar round impacted just outside our protective barrier. Then I pushed him out with the command 'go now!' We both ran from the bunker."

Nobholt was headed for the Tactical Operations Center, and both men ran together for a while. As he was heading toward his guard tower post, the platoon leader turned to look at him and mouthed "how?"

"Had I not grabbed him in immediate reaction [to the mysterious internal warning], he would have been in the path of destruction from that mortar detonation."

When they talked later, he was still asking the same question. "I wish I could have known the GodNod language then. All I could say was that I somehow knew it was the wrong time for us to leave. However, the commander's Jeep was too close. He did not survive."

How many today?

More than 620,000 American sons and daughters lost their lives fighting for freedom in World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Wednesday is the proper time to solemnly reflect--if even for a minute--on so many members of the U.S. military who sacrificed their futures in wars against tyranny, oppression and evil that include communist and socialist nations. Paying respects is the least we can do.

Yet I honestly wonder how many from today's generation offer even passing homage to all those ultimate sacrifices by these dead and maimed Americans so we might remain free.

Frankly, as we baby boomers age, I feel increasingly surrounded by millions of self-absorbed, spoiled, almost infantile hand-wringing, easily offended younger men and women who have no concept of offering their very lives to ensure freedoms for their fellow countrymen.

And that, my friends, would be a sad, sad development for our future.

I realize I'm painting with a broad brush here. And perhaps a significant part of my perception is fueled by an agenda-laden national and social media seemingly eager to publicize and celebrate the widespread looting, riots, arson, statue toppling and flag burning by younger people in Democrat-controlled cities, often misattributed to peaceful protesting.

Yes, I recognize some readers will feel I'm mistaken. Yet in the end, I wonder just how many of today's generation would remotely consider joining their comrades in arms to storm the blood-soaked beaches of Normandy, to fight to the death in the steamy jungles of Vietnam, or storm Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, or hunker in the sub-freezing foxholes at the Battle of the Bulge to risk their lives for each other and fellow Americans they never met or would know.

Based on the display of disrespect I see happening today across many major cities, not nearly enough to protect and preserve our liberties.

Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you.


Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at [email protected]

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