The Gospel comes to us in the form of a story – the epic tale of a God who endures a suffering so great on behalf of His enemies that they – and history – are redeemed and transformed by His self sacrificial act. That Gospel story is then lived out over and over again in the life of each person who is made new by it. We each become living testimonies and our glory stories contain the power to awaken others to the possibility of hope. Enter Gary Beikirch.
He is a man who has received this nation’s highest honor for acts of valor in a 38 day battle in Vietnam for a village smaller than many American churches. His story is told by Marcus Brotherton in “Blaze of Light: The Inspiring True Story of Green Beret Medic Gary Beikirch, Medal of Honor Recipient” and Gary joined me on Mornings with Carmen to share from his heart about the burden of honor he bears.
With genuine humility and depth of grace, Beikirch says,
“My story is God’s story. This medal is not about me. This medal is about him. Without God’s grace, I wouldn’t have been able to survive Vietnam. Without his forgiveness in my life, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself. Without his love, I wouldn’t have healed from my wounds. This medal is ultimately about him, and I wear it for his honor.”
In our conversation I asked him to recount some of his experiences as a medic in the jungles of the Central Highlands of Vietnam, where he established a deep bond with the local Montagnard people. Gary took us to the dawn of April 1, 1970, when 10,000 enemy soldiers sought to obliterate the village of Dak Seang where he was stationed with a small team of Green Berets. While under fire, a seriously wounded and paralyzed Beikirch continued to provide medical care for his fellow soldiers until receiving emergency transport. How? Because a teenager who had taught Gary how to live in the jungle, sacrificed his life to save Gary.
Gary also shares what it was like to return to the U.S. with deep wounds. Some seen. Many unseen. Beikirch’s return to an embittered U.S. was the beginning of a new battle. He would fight the pain of a wounded heart, soul, and spirit. He didn’t know it yet, but the soul-wound he suffered would prove more destructive than any of his physical wounds. Gary thought healing would come by forgetting so he retreated to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and lived in a cave for almost two years. Inside that cave, God began to heal Gary in profound ways. When the veteran came out, it was to go to Washington, DC, to receive the nation’s highest honor for acts of valor.
Listen as Gary shares some of the life lessons he’s been passing on during his 33 years as a middle school counselor in New York. And, as you listen, consider the burden of honor.Honoring God and one another: Medal of Honor recipient Gary Beikirch and Blaze of Light