What can we learn from our veterans about citizenship, heroism and sacrifice? As one powerful new book shows — a ton.
Chuck Colson had a very high view of the men and women who serve in our nation’s military. And as strange as it may sound at first, he frequently referred to military service as an act of love.
As Chuck related on BreakPoint, “Reformer John Calvin called the soldier an ‘agent of God’s love’ and called soldiering justly a ‘God-like act.’ Why? Because ‘restraining evil out of love for neighbor’ is an imitation of God’s restraining evil out of love for His creatures.”
This Veterans Day, I think it’s fair to ask how well we, the citizens of the United States, are responding to that love. How are we acknowledging and supporting our nation’s veterans and active military?
That’s the topic of an extraordinarily powerful new book by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran called “For Love of Country: What Our Veterans Can Teach Us about Citizenship, Heroism, and Sacrifice.”
Schultz’s interest in the men and women of our armed forces began when he was invited to speak on leadership at West Point. After touring the grounds, learning about the Military Academy’s traditions and standards, observing the young men and women of the corps, Schultz went to the podium to speak, but found himself choking up.
“My visit,” he wrote, “revealed to me just how disconnected I had been from those fellow citizens who have dedicated years of their lives to defending the freedom I hold dear . . . I had never visited a military base. Before going to West Point, I had never even spoken to anyone in uniform. I was embarrassed.”
Since then, Schultz has visited military bases, spoken to military and defense leaders, and learned about the unbelievable challenges facing our veterans and those still in service. These encounters inspired Schultz to commit Starbucks to hiring 10,000 veterans over a period of five years—and it led him to team up with Chandrasekaran to write “Love of Country.”
The first half of the book is a collection of extraordinary stories of bravery, suffering, and self-sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan. The second half deals with the struggles of physically and emotionally wounded soldiers and Marines and their families, as well as the survivors of the fallen. But we also get to see how veterans continue to give back to their communities: becoming disaster relief volunteers, educators in inner-city schools, and on and on.
The brief epilogue may be the most important section of the book. Schultz writes, “Less than 1 of our population have served our military abroad since the September 11, 2001, attacks.” And that 1 percent has borne the brunt of America’s longest military engagement.
“For too long,” Schultz writes, “too many of us have paid scant attention to the commitment of the brave few in our midst. It is unhealthy for a nation to become detached from those who secure it.”
So what to do? The book provides good ideas about getting to know the veterans and their families in your community, volunteering, and donating to organizations that help our military families.
I recommend the book highly, but do be aware the combat stories involve violence, human suffering, and profanity.
Come to BreakPoint org and click on this commentary. We’ll tell you how to get a copy of “For Love of Country: What Our Veterans Can Teach Us about Citizenship, Heroism, and Sacrifice.” We’ll also link you to the book’s website, where you can find resources and organizations that aid veterans and their families.
And then, on this Veterans Day, consider what you can do to serve those who served.
Editor’s note: We were incorrect in saying that less than 1 percent of the U.S. population has ever served. We have corrected the mistake in the text above. See comments below.
For Love of Country: Serving Those Who Served
To learn more about organizations that help veterans and their families, and for tips on supporting our troops, visit the book’s website here.
For Love of Country
Howard Schultz, Rajiv Chandrasekaran | Knopf | November, 2014
For Love of Country