On June 17, 2017 I will celebrate my FIFTIETH "Alive Day," the fiftieth anniversary of my wounding in Vietnam on June 17, 1967. Rarely does a day go by that I am not triggered in some way with the memories of that day, three days from my 25th birthday. My wounds (as many of you already know) were from a mortar shell landing close behind me and ripping my left leg off below the knee completely and instantly. The right leg, broken in five places, was amputated ten days later. My gracious and loving God did not suffer me to feel the pain originally. I was awake until the medical evacuation helicopter delivered me to the MASH in Pleiku some unknown number of hours later. There were six weeks of morphine every three hours and twenty total surgeries even up into forty years later.
My Lord received no relief from His wounds. His wounds served a purpose for all of us that many do not fathom. The sacrifice on that cross meant that those of us that grasp its significance and believe he was Who He said He was, will have eternal life, when the wounds physically and emotionally and spiritually have taken their toll in our lives. In one of my daily readings reference is made to Psalm 34. In this world strategically with the threat again of possible nuclear attack, terrorist attacks even in our smaller cities, bombings, rampant crime, and the deterioration of morality and integrity, we are beset and besieged with our own personal tactical issues of failing marriages, deteriorating health, failing businesses, and inadequate provision financially. These will not end. It is reality therapy. All we can do is confess our sins, forgive all others, keep in constant prayer and intercession, and be faithful to our beliefs. We must go on with our lives, but love, love, love as Jesus taught us.
A friend of Linda's spoke of a friend who was told she had two months to live. Her friends began the typical responses of regret and sadness. She very dynamically and joyfully proclaimed, "Are you serious? I see Jesus in Heaven in two months!" Who will you see upon your demise?
[Editor's Comment: In 1989, Allen B. Clark was nominated by President George H.W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Assistant Secretary for Veterans Liaison and Program Coordination at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In 1991, he received his second VA confirmation as Director of the National Cemetery System, a position in which he served until the end of the Bush Administration.
I met Allen and his wife, Linda, in April 2007, in San Antonio, TX, at the combined Military Chaplains Association and VA Hospital Chaplains Convention. I soon learned that they are Spirit-filled believers. At that time they were Episcopalians, but later moved their membership to the Anglican Church that is conservative in theology and embraces the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They have invited me to be their personal pastor.
Allen is a West Point graduate and a veteran of Vietnam where he gave both legs in combat in defense of the South Vietnamese. He is a gifted speaker and author. His wife, Linda, is also a speaker and writes dramatic scripts of great women in the Bible and acts out those roles for audiences with the appropriate dress of the Bible character. Her insights are inspiring and instructive.
Allen Clark has graciously accepted my invitation to be a Contributing Writer for Hugh's News.]