A Bridge To Peace


So how important is truth? Scripture tells us, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” Of course Jesus was referring to a Spiritual freedom from the bondage of sin and a new identity in Christ as a child of God.


Consequently, I’m taking a stretch here. I’m opting to take the text out of context, but what I’m saying is still true. “Truth is a value and virtue on which integrity and trust are founded. When it doesn’t exist in the framework of a relationship, skepticism and distrust replace confidence and belief.


One of my all time favorite scenes from any movie is the one from “A Few Good Men” when Colonel Jessup is being asked if he ordered the “code red?!!! The presiding judge interrupted to tell the Colonel that he didn’t have to answer. You can tell by the Colonel’s body language that he is coming apart at the seams: He screams: “You want answers?!” The prosecuting attorney responds: “I want the truth!   If you saw the movie, you will remember the line: “You can’t handle the truth!”


Have you ever come away feeling like you’ve just been provided the “party line” and a snippet of non-descript information. The details are only for the strong at heart and there is pre-determined perception that you don’t quite measure up. Consequently, it is best that you not know. After all, “You can’t handle the truth!”


Obviously, you can tell where I’m headed. My blog yesterday included a tender story about an American serviceman returning a picture that included both a NVA soldier (who died in the war) and his eight-year-old daughter. Thirty plus years after the fact, the serviceman traveled 8,000 miles to meet the daughter of the man he had killed and to return the picture to her.


The soldier and the daughter exchanged correspondence and photos for months before he made his pilgrimage back to face the woman he had left fatherless? It was at her invitation that he come and “turn his grief and haunting into joy and happiness.” Hers was a forgiving spirit.


I can’t begin to imagine the thoughts that must have raced through the man’s head as he approached her home. Think about it, “What would you say to the young woman if you had been responsible for the death of her dad years earlier?” He said this: “Today, I return the photo of you and your father, which I have kept for thirty-three years”. He paused, swallowed and added: “Please forgive me”.


The daughter pressed her father’s image to her forehead and collapsed sobbing into the man’s arms. “The photo was between them – just as it had always been. It was now a bridge to peace.” As it turned out, it was the only picture the daughter had of her father.


He told the daughter and her family: “Your father died a brave and courageous man.” The daughter gave him another hug and said: She believed he brought her father’s spirit home to her family. They believed their father lived on in the man who had been responsible for his death and they forgave him.


Having answers and knowing the truth can make a huge difference. Why can’t there be more stories like this one? Why can people honestly share what they know to be true and promote the answers needed (i.e.: the truth)?


Last year at the POW/MIA League of Families Annual Meeting in Washington D.C., the previously identified crash site believed for decades to be that of the A-6 in which my brother was flying logistically was discounted as an error. It couldn’t have been his plane.


Over the past eleven months an independent team of highly skilled investigators with a background in military history and the Vietnam War have searched records maintained by the Vietnamese. In addition, they have reviewed all of the records our government has maintained about Ron’s circumstances and subsequent efforts for recovery.


What we’ve discovered is that we have been provided some misinformation. The list is lengthy, but I’ll provide you a snapshot:


  • The crash previously identified as his crash site has been there since 1968. Ron’s crash was during the Christmas bombing raids of 1972.
  • We were told that the Vietnamese had buried Ron in one place and subsequently moved him to another. When they went to place one, there was no evidence that a grave ever existed.
  • Recon was reported with no findings. We later learned no recon was sent.


This list goes on and I simply want answers. I can handle the truth. In fact, I don’t need it sugar-coated. God has already done that for me and I’m convinced there will subsequently be a glorious reunion one day. In the interim, I can handle the facts.


I was expressing my frustration to a friend that is a retired Colonel from the U.S.A.F. I candidly stated that historically some of the information we had been given didn’t coincide with truth. He kind of casually nodded reflecting his understanding, while verbalizing something about the need not to disclose “classified information.”


They say confession is good for the soul. However, I fear if I share with you what I said, you won’t like me nearly as well. Had my mother been present, she would have done one of two things: (1) Washed my mouth out with soap or (2) Agreed with me. Rarely do I even have a thought that I would be embarrassed for anyone (my mother included) to hear me verbalize.


There was something about hearing the “routine military party-line rhetoric” about “classified information” that awakened a dragon in the midst of my head or maybe it was my heart. I thundered back: “Excuse me, but that’s nothing but “!K%& *%# >!!!” Truthfully, that was a first for me. I’ve never used that expression before. I am 70 years old and I’ve never used that expression before. Even many years ago when I was “dancin’ the Cotton Eye Joe”, I couldn’t add in the customarily line that goes with the song.


I hope I don’t turn out to be a cranky old man that is an embarrassment to my family. Wow! My friend had a very surprised look on his face! Mine was probably red with embarrassment, and I felt somewhat guilty. Would I do it again? Seriously, I honestly don’t know. I had the sense that my assessment of the “classified information” rhetoric was right on target. All I want is the truth.


Truth in today’s time and place shouldn’t be that elusive. Why not pattern our approach like the American soldier and the girl (now woman) from Vietnam? Simply having information – truthful information – could effectively close out a painful period in our nation’s history. We are generations removed from war. This is not our fight. What both sides need are answers. The truth could make a meaningful difference.


All My Best!