|Doug Barry; Battle Ready...|
He went to boot camp in San Diego, more than 1,400 miles away from his home in Texas, and, after the 6-week training, was sent to Pearl Harbor and assigned to the USS South Dakota.
A month later, Graham saw his first action in combat in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, where he and his shipmates earned a Navy Unit Commendation for their involvement.
About 2 weeks later, Graham was injured by shrapnel during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal but, despite the injury, he helped pull other wounded soldiers to safety aboard the ship. He was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart medals and he and the entire crew of the USS South Dakota were awarded another Navy Unit Commendation.
Graham was 12-years-old! After having served for two years, the military learned that he had lied about his age to enlist and he was immediately discharged. He re-enlisted in the Marines Corp in 1948. He was 17.
"There used to be a fighting spirit in America," Speaker Doug Barry told a group of about 250 participants at the Archdiocese of Miami's 9th Annual Men's Conference, which I attended recently at Nativity Catholic Church in Hollywood, Fl.
"Men wanted to enlist. They wanted to fight for what they believed and they were willing to die to protect what they loved back home."
Men have come a long way since those days. Unfortunately, not always in a good way.
Today, about the only fighting many men are willing to enlist for may be on social media, where the enemy is kept at a distance and the engagement impersonal. And, as far as service? Well, if you consider going by the drive-through window to pick up dinner for the family on the way home from work, maybe. Many men are sleep-walking through existence, too distracted to live up to their full potential and too defeated by life and the culture to take up arms and fight the good fight.
The former co-host of EWTN's Life on the Rock and current host of Battle Ready continued, "The attack is coming from the world, from the flesh, and from the Devil. We need to be battle ready!"
It's a battle for the soul, he says; for our salvation and for the soul and salvation of our family.
And for many, the battle may not come at them so fiercely as in pornography on the internet, a happy hour with buddies that leads to a night of carousing at a strip bar, or a new young secretary at work.
It may come in subtleties.
I constantly have to battle selfishness and self-centeredness. I constantly have to battle complacency and laziness. I constantly have to battle judging people who are not like me, and even those who are. I constantly have to battle taking my wife and kids for granted.
I can spend three hours watching a baseball game on TV but then complain I didn't have time to clear the dishwaters and put the dirty ones in the washer at night. It's a constant battle with myself; my own sinful tendencies.
As C.S. Lewis puts so eloquently in The Screwtape Letters, "Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one -- the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts..."
"There is a battle with an enemy," Barry says in the first episode of Battle Ready, "that seeks to destroy our souls for all eternity. The reality of this enemy is that it doesn't eat. It doesn't sleep. And, for thousands of years, this enemy has been watching mankind; looking at our weaknesses, our tendencies and how easily we get distracted and lose sight of the reality of the battle."
In his Letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul writes, "Our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground." (Eph. 6:12)
I sometimes tell my son, "Courage is when you do what is right even when you're afraid."
There is no shame in fear. The only shame is in allowing fear to keep you from doing what you should.
Theoden rides in front his numerous but outnumbered Riders of Rohan, who stand side-by-side on their horses, bracing for the battle against their behemoth foe. Theoden yells out, as he rides his horse in front of the warriors, "Arise, arise, Riders of Theoden! Spear shall be shaken, shield shall be splintered, a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!"
|The Riders of Rohan; Battle Ready!...|
Barry told the men in the audience, "One of the favorite verses in the Bible for many men, which I hear as I speak to men across the country, is Ephesians 5, where it states, 'Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church.' (Eph. 5:22-23) Christ died for the Church! Every day of our lives, we should look at the Crucifix and see what it means to be the head of our wife."
In the Book of Revelation, we read that when war broke out in Heaven, the dragon, Satan, and his fallen angels were hurled down, not to Hell but to earth!
Battle readiness, Barry argues, means being aware that we are behind enemy lines. We are in a spiritual war. We need to be prepared to protect and defend and get engaged.
"We have been entrusted with the lives of our families and we have to be ready to fight for them... Wives want their husbands to engage in the fight not to stand back and watch."
That doesn't mean getting into fisticuffs with an Atheist at the supermarket, It means Christian men need to learn their faith, live their faith, defend their faith and pass it to their children. Men need to, as Barry says, "own it."
Also, readiness doesn't just apply to mind and soul. It means the physical body as well, "If you want to be there for your wife and children, take care of your health... You're only ready to fight to the degree that you train."
The 54-year-old father of five (plus 2 in Heaven) from Lincoln, Nebraska, who has been married for 29 years, says that one day, his wife approached him while he was doing some housework and she said, "You know, God is going to judge you on a much stricter scale than He's ever going to judge me." She left the room momentarily as Barry babbled to himself trying to figure out why she meant.
She reappeared shortly and continued, "Because you, as a husband and father, will be judged by how well you tried to lead me and the kids to heaven. While, I as your wife, will be judged by how well I let you lead our family to heaven."
Edmund Burke once wrote, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Failure is not an option. Like the Riders of Rohan, we are the last hope.
"I am my family's defender and protector. I'm never going to relinquish that role. It's never going to happen. Not on my watch."
So like Calvin Graham and King Theoden, it's time to heed way to the dying advice of King David to his son Solomon, "Take courage and be a man."
Of course, King Theoden dies on the battlefield and so did Jesus on the Cross but, in the end, Christ's Resurrection ensures that good triumphs over evil and so will we, if we are battle ready, prepare and engage...