Saturday, April 13, 2013

When your heart changes, God's at work, so listen..

It was a scary night as we marched through part of Panama in 1989. We were in near constant small arms fire fights, fires lit the night skies, people in disorder, lights flickered as power was cutting off and coming back on. Like in most combat situations, the screams and cries of people become less alarming. Because as a Soldier you are trained to drive forward on your mission/orders with complete disregard to everything else except fellow Americans and people in your sight.

You have to understand I was not a regular Army Soldier, I was an Airborne Ranger. My job required much more efficiency with more results in a shorter period of time than regulars.  I covered more ground, and was expected to seek and destroy my enemy with great vigor.

So as we walked in a line formation down the street, at least 3 machine guns opened up on us, splitting us up to find cover. I saw and hid under a bus bench, which was the only thing I could see to protect me. The PDF (Panama Defense Force) Rebels knew I was there as they placed direct fire upon that bench.

As that bench took fire, it began to crumble, and I had begun to pray to God. Well that isn't really true, I began to lie to God. I told him ( self proclaimed Roman Catholic) that I would go to Church every Sunday, read my Bible if he would save me. Over and over I prayed as the concrete leg of that bus bench continued to crumble.

Let's go back to 1984 for a minute and talk about my childhood. My biological father was a Policeman, and he was also a Racist and taught me how to look at people of different skin color. As I got older I took on a slightly different view of acceptance but it was never certified in my heart. I was, from time to time a Racist, sometimes out of anger/not understanding or as to join in with the people around me.

Back to 1989...

So there I was lying to God, asking him to save my hide, thinking nothing more than about myself. I couldn't get a shot off at the enemy as the suppression fire was far to great. Closed eyes, laying in a fetal style position, I began to feel the bench fall on my head, and it was hot. I opened my eyes and was trying to remove those pieces, when I looked, there was another Soldier standing over me firing his M-249 towards the enemy line. He began to shout in a deep, drawn out southern accent, arm extended to me, " come on man, I am running out of ammo, lets get the @#$* out of here ". He basically pulled me to my feet where I began to return fire as well.

Built like a football player, he was of African American decent, or then known as a Black Man. This man of color saw no color of mine and saved my life. He could have been killed, but I was just a Brother in Arms to him, and he did what he did with complete disregard for his own life or my skin color. I thanked him several times as I made my way back to my unit.

From that moment on, I was never a Racist again and later I would visit that unit to thank the man again. When I found him he didn't remember what he had done. It was like he was never there, was he ever there?

I often wondered after I didn't "find" him again if that was some one God had sent to teach me how to love others no matter what their skin color was. That lesson was taught to me and I have never spoke such words or had a Racist attitude ever again.

Later in life I would live in a community where I was the only white person living there. I lived in harmony and kindness with them. Although there was some lashing out at me, I didn't lash back and generally I was well respected as a human.  

Sometimes, I believe in my heart, God teaches us, and those lessons we will carry with us the rest of our time on Earth. 

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