Tuesday, August 16, 2005

On the iPod: The Gift of Valor

This is the story of Marine Corporal Jason Dunham, who gave his life for his fellow Marines in Iraq in April 2004. It is also the story of his buddies, his comrades and their families. It's the story of the health care workers that cared for Jason as his shattered body made its way from Western Iraq to his final resting place at home in Scio, New York. It's the story of the Marines and how they care for their own. And it's a story of leadership and ultimately love itself: for as the Bible says, "greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)

The details of the story I'll leave for you to discover, but I want to focus on this man Jason Dunham and the leadership style that he embodied. Some who lead ultimately seek to serve themselves, to widen their domain, to control, to command, to gain power. They pile on rules, break down spirits, cajole, browbeat, lean on authority, push, threaten, and demand. For them rank and position provide all they need to expect obedience.

Then there are the Christlike leaders like Corporal Dunham. Christlike not because they are believers; it isn't clear to me that Cpl. Dunham was a believer. But without a doubt he led as Jesus would lead: from behind his men with regard to status and in front of them with regard to danger. Jason Dunham was a sacrificial leader, as all Christians are called to be. Putting the needs of others first, as Jason did with his Marines. And finally paying the ultimate sacrifice, valuing the lives of his comrades above his own as he shielded them from a grenade with his own body.

Jason Dunham's life was tragically cut short by small-minded evil men who want to return their country to the hell that Saddam imposed on them. They don't deserve to breathe the same air of a Jason Dunham, and it's maddening that we would lose men of such high character and strength. But it's the nature of tests like these that only when fully played out can the true mettle of a man like Jason Dunham be revealed.

God bless your soul, your family, and your comrades, Corporal Dunham. May you rest in peace.


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