300 (Heroes, Warriors, and Communities)

We all know the story of the 300 Spartan warriors who took on the Persian invaders.  We’ve seen the movie and cheered as we watched these heroes stand side by side, fending off their foes and refusing to bow before the greater force.  We use their lives as an example of what warriors should be, focusing on their dedication to combat and committing their lives to one another.

SIDE NOTE: I saw the movie three times in theatres.  The first time for the story.  The second for the artwork. And the third for the music.  It is an epic, guy movie.  That is all.

One of the tactics that made the Spartans such a powerful force was their commitment to fighting side by side, as one single unit, not as several hundred individuals.  They fought together as a community, dedicated to shielding the man next to them as they made the phalanx wall.

We can learn so much from the brave men that fought and died next to one another on the field of battle.  Throughout history, we see examples of this community of warriors that forced us to reconsider individual heroes.  In World War II, we see the stories of the Tuskegee Airmen and the famous Band of Brothers, the 101st Airborne.   We follow the men of the 7th Calvary in We Were Soldiers and read of the stories of units in the jungles of Vietnam in novels like Matterhorn.

We learn from these communities, no matter how messed up each of them are.  Fight together as a family.  Leave no man behind (adopted by the US Military due to the influences of LtC Hall Moore). Persevere and survive.

Two years ago today, I found myself racing across the state of Missouri to the small town of Joplin after a EF5 tornado ripped a six mile swath, a mile wide through the community.

It was there that I found myself side by side with the survivors and volunteers who poured off the street to join the response effort.  We had members from several different AmeriCorps programs, including the St. Louis Emergency Response Team, Washington Conservation Corps, Traditional NCCC, Texas Environmental Corps, and several others that responded to the devastation and helped to assist the community get back to its feet.

While we didn’t have 300 AmeriCorps members there at one single time, we learned what it meant to become warriors as we stood side by side with one another through the darkest of days.

While we never wielded weapons of war, we fought for one another and learned to come together as one single family, to comfort one another and those in need, to combat the destruction around us with the power of true love, friendship, and community.

Even now, as we watch the first responders and volunteers begin to pour into Moore, Oklahoma, I am proud to be part of the AmeriCorps family that is responding.  We already have the St. Louis Emergency Response Team and members of FEMA Corps on the ground.  Many others are coming.  Thousands will respond and all our hearts will move as one.

We Live.  We Love.  Service is a part of who we have become, a part of who we are.  We have discovered the heart of the warrior and embraced it.

My prayers go out to all those that served in Joplin.  To all those who continue their service throughout the nation.  To those who will find themselves outside Oklahoma City, helping the community of Moore.  To all the first responders.  The emergency managers.  Those that work behind the scenes, out of sight of the eyes of the media.  To all those affected by disasters, near and far.

You are the warriors that the younger generation will look to.


God Bless and PEACE

NOTE: Somehow, the events of the past week corresponded with an already scheduled update to celebrate the past two years of service in Joplin and my 300th blog post.  With a little editing and reworking, everything fell into place.


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