Military service is an honorable and necessary part of any nation led by God. There are many perspectives to war, but this is an example of mine.
- Review the story of Gail Halvorsen the Candy Bomber.
- Opening Song: Hymn # 270 “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go“
- Scripture: Alma 43:45-47
During several deployments as a helicopter pilot to Iraq, the majority of news was negative. After having flown over almost every part of Iraq and talking to several Iraqi civilians, I learned most Iraqi people were happy with our presence in their country and what we were doing for them.
When Iraqis saw our helicopters flying around, we receive excited waves from children and adults alike. When I convoyed through half the country in 2003, every town had the streets lined with people waving and yelling things like “Thank you!” and “Go USA!” Every base and camp in Iraq employed local Iraqis to help put needed money into Iraqi hands.
On one deployment, our unit was known as the “Toy Bombers” because of a small event that became a huge project.
One of our pilot’s was flying over the city and saw several children kicking around a flat soccer ball. The site inspired him to gather up all the extra balls and frisbees lying around camp and on the next flight over the town, he dropped them in the playing field. The next day the parents came to the base to thank the pilots for showing such love towards their children.
The story spread home to the pilots’ families and they started sending toys to Iraq to be dropped for the children. Over time even more people started getting involved. The “Toy Bombers” quickly organized at home to a large organization. The last shipment we received included 18 large boxes filled with toys that were dropped in towns and villages all over Iraq.
In the Sunday Morning session of the April 2004 General Conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley gave a talk titled “War and Peace”
One of our Articles of Faith, which represent an expression of our doctrine, states, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (A of F 1:12).
But modern revelation states that we are to “renounce war and proclaim peace” (D&C 98:16).
In a democracy we can renounce war and proclaim peace. There is opportunity for dissent. Many have been speaking out and doing so emphatically. That is their privilege. That is their right, so long as they do so legally. However, we all must also be mindful of another overriding responsibility, which I may add, governs my personal feelings and dictates my personal loyalties in the present situation.
When war raged between the Nephites and the Lamanites, the record states that “the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for … power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church.
And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God” (Alma 43:45-46).
The Lord counseled them, “Defend your families even unto bloodshed” (Alma 43:47).
And Moroni “rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it-In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children-and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.
“And he fastened on his headplate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren” (Alma 46:12-13).
It is clear from these and other writings that there are times and circumstances when nations are justified, in fact have an obligation, to fight for family, for liberty, and against tyranny, threat, and oppression.
When I deployed to Iraq, myself and many others believed it was in defense of our families back in the United States. Within a short time, many in our country did not feel that threat any more. I find comfort in the sacrifice our family experienced from knowing the Iraqi people are our brothers and sisters. We were helping bring the blessings of liberty to our brethren like Moroni.
I know that I joined the military as a result of personal revelation. I know that I was doing the Lord’s work while serving in Iraq. I have seen the positive effects first hand. I pray in my heart the operations we conducted in Iraq will foster more liberty in that region of the world. I hope to see the gospel preached to the people in the Middle East someday and to return to a peaceful country. I continually pray for the Holy Ghost to guide our leaders and commanders in their plans and decisions. I am grateful that my service in the military was focused on helping people. I share this testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
- Make your own “Title of Liberty” like Moroni with paint and a large piece of paper, or even “rent” and old shirt and use a piece thereof like Moroni. Explain what it means when people of old “rent” their clothing.
- Buy some candy bars and have string and handkerchiefs available to recreate the actions of the “Candy Bomber”. Try different sized parachutes and how high and how much hang time you can get with your candy bar.
- Watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir special dedicated to the Candy Bomber, Gail Halvorsen, embedded below.