VIDEO A Memorial Day Reminder From Erbil, Iraq – Patton – MacArthur

A Memorial Day Reminder From Erbil, Iraq

Erbil, Iraq (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

A quick story about the meaning of Memorial Day from the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

On my way to dinner, I hailed one of the city’s ubiquitous beige taxis and hopped in the front seat. Having been in Kurdistan before, I’ve learned to sit in the front seat. The taxi drivers act a little weird if you sit in back.

My driver was a handsome man in his mid 30s—about my age. I gave my destination in English, and he softly replied in Kurdish-accented English, “No problem.”

Off we went.

A moment later, I asked, “So you speak English?”

“Yes,” the driver said.

“Did you learn in school?”

“No, I worked for the U.S. Army.”

My interest piqued. I paused, then introduced myself and told the driver my background and why I was in Iraq.

“My name is Safeen,” he said, adding: “I love America. I have many friends who are American soldiers.”

“Do you still keep in touch with them?”

“Of course,” Safeen said before proudly rattling off a list of names and ranks.

“I used to speak English so well, but I forget,” he said. “It frustrates me.”

I assured him he was doing fine. Then, with renewed confidence in his English-speaking chops, Safeen proceeded to breathlessly explain how, beginning in 2004, he had been an interpreter for the U.S. Army. He said he had worked alongside U.S. troops in combat in Baghdad, Kirkuk, Mosul, and Fallujah.

“It was very dangerous,” Safeen said, talking about Fallujah. “Every day there were shootings and bombings, very dangerous.”

Safeen said he was already a Kurdish peshmerga soldier before the 2003 U.S. invasion to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein. When the war began, his commander asked for 10 volunteers who spoke English to work with the U.S. Army as interpreters. So, Safeen volunteered and proudly performed his duty, he explained, but the war left scars – both the visible and invisible kinds.

“I was in an American Humvee in Fallujah,” he said. “A terrorist bomb did this to my face. You see my face?”

I said I did.

He had scars across his cheeks. They weren’t striking, and I’d hardly noticed them when I first got in the taxi. But the scars were there, all right.

“I have a wife and two kids now, so no more war,” Safeen continued. “I used the money the Americans gave me to buy a nice house. I have a good life here in Erbil. It’s very safe. It’s very good.”

He went on talking about the war as he expertly zipped through traffic. One soldier’s name kept coming up—a “Sgt. Bill.” Safeen told his stories about Sgt. Bill with verve and a big smile plastered on his scarred cheeks.

I asked if he was still in touch with Sgt. Bill.

Safeen did not immediately reply. Rather, he shook his head and squinted his eyes like he was holding something back. A lack of vocabulary wasn’t responsible for his silence, I understood. Some memories are simply too painful to find the words to explain, no matter what language you’re speaking.

“Sgt. Bill died,” Safeen said at last.

I said nothing more about it.

When we arrived at our destination a few minutes later, Safeen steadfastly refused my money.

“Can’t I give you anything?” I asked.

“Of course not,” Safeen told me.

He wrote his number on a card and gave it to me.

“If you need anything while you’re in Iraq, you tell me,” he said.

“Thank you, Safeen.”

We shook hands goodbye. After I’d stepped out, Safeen said one more thing to me before I closed the door.

“Promise me,” he said, “if you need anything, you let me know.”

I agreed, and we parted ways.

Now, sitting alone with a quiet moment to think, I understand the significance of meeting Safeen.

After all, Memorial Day is on Monday. A solemn holiday, it’s an occasion to honor those who died in service to the United States. The real heroes.

As a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it stings to think about the friends I’ve lost. Also, I reluctantly confess that I sometimes question what my generation of veterans achieved and what our friends died fighting for.

The fact is, we spent the unrecoverable currency of our youths in wars that never really ended. We didn’t win or lose—we just never finished. Instead, another generation is now taking our place on those faraway battlefields. The endless seasons of waxing and waning violence go on and on and don’t look likely to end anytime soon.

However, despite my fleeting qualms, I’m ultimately proud of what we achieved.

Wars, after all, don’t always end with unconditional surrenders and victory parades. In our time, we have waged a multi-generational struggle to relentlessly resist the dark forces that exist outside our borders and are always looking for a way to hurt our homeland.

So we never backed down, and we never gave up. Even when it hurt. Even after so much time away from home. Even when we lost friends. Even when we didn’t know what victory looked like. Yes, we kept fighting because evil exists and we knew we couldn’t ignore it.

But the reasons for our service weren’t just about defending the homeland.

You see, I’ve learned one thing as a war correspondent that I never really understood while I was an Air Force pilot: The U.S. military remains the torchbearer for our country’s best values and a beacon of hope for people fighting for their freedom around the world.

Meeting Safeen reminded me of that truth. He reminded me that freedom is worth the fighting for, and that America has friends forever due to the sacrifices of our heroes.

This Memorial Day, that’s a message all Americans need to hear.

Nolan Peterson, a former special operations pilot and a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, is The Daily Signal’s foreign correspondent based in Ukraine. Send an email to Nolan.

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published by The Daily Signal.

Duty, Honor, Country | Douglas MacArthur | May 12, 1962 | West Point

speech from the movie Patton given to the 3rd army

Patton was known for his salty speech

A Living Memorial of Kindness

David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2 Samuel 9:1


I grew up in a church full of traditions. One came into play when a beloved family member or friend died. Often a church pew or possibly a painting in a hallway showed up not long afterward with a brass plate affixed: “In Memory of . . .” The deceased’s name would be etched there, a shining reminder of a life passed on. I always appreciated those memorials. And I still do. Yet at the same time they’ve always given me pause because they are static, inanimate objects, in a very literal sense something “not alive.” Is there a way to add an element of “life” to the memorial?

Following the death of his beloved friend Jonathan, David wanted to remember him and to keep a promise to him (1 Samuel 20:12–17). But rather than simply seek something static, David searched and found something very much alive—a son of Jonathan (2 Samuel 9:3). David’s decision here is dramatic. He chose to extend kindness (v. 1) to Mephibosheth (vv. 6–7) in the specific forms of restored property (“all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul”) and the ongoing provision of food and drink (“you will always eat at my table”).

As we continue to remember those who’ve died with plaques and paintings, may we also recall David’s example and extend kindness to those still living.

By John Blase

Reflect & Pray

Who has died that you don’t want to forget? What might a specific kindness to another person look like for you?

Jesus, give me the strength to extend kindness in memory of the kindness others have shown me, but most important because of Your great kindness.

The Sacrificial Lamb

Hebrews 10:1-14

God’s grace has no limits. His mercy can reach the darkest part of our heart. What’s more, the forgiveness Jesus offered on the cross stretches back to earth’s first day and forward to its last. Christ not only erased our past, present, and future sin; He also paid for the wrongs of every generation.

When the Israelites brought a goat or a lamb to the temple for a sacrifice, they placed their hands on its head and confessed their sins. The priest then killed the animal and sprinkled some of its blood on the altar of atonement. The ritual symbolized a confessor’s payment for sin. But the lamb could not actually take on the sin and die in place of the Israelite (Heb. 10:4).

If an animal’s blood could actually erase a sin-debt, we’d still be offering those frequent sacrifices and Jesus’ death would have been unnecessary. Yet we must remember that though the act itself had no saving power, the ritual of sacrifice was God’s idea (Lev. 4:1-35). He established such offerings as a powerful illustration of the seriousness and penalty of sin. The practice also pointed to Christ’s perfect sacrificial death on our behalf and the salvation He offers. To use a modern metaphor, sacrifice can be thought of as similar to a credit card. God accepted the lamb’s blood as temporary payment. When the bill came due, Jesus Christ paid the sin-debt in full.

Modern believers do practice certain biblical rituals, but we are not pardoned through prayer, Bible reading, or even the act of confession. Like the Israelites, we must also look to a lamb—the Lamb of God. When we receive Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, we are forgiven forever.

What Is The Meaning Of These Stones

“When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then ye shall let your children know.” (Joshua 4:21-22)

The poet George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” In the life of every nation, there are “memories” that must be preserved if that nation is to retain an awareness of its unique role among the nations of the world—indeed, among the long list of nations throughout history.

Long ago, God Himself instituted “memorials” so that the key events of history might be remembered. The rainbow was to remind God of His covenant to preserve life on the earth after the awful destruction of the Flood (Genesis 9:8-17). Jacob set up a stone after he had seen the ladder and spoken with the angel of the Lord (Genesis 28:12-22). Joseph insisted that the children of Israel take his bones with them into the land of promise (Genesis 50:25).

In our text, Joshua is told by the Lord to take 12 stones out of Jordan and make a monument to commemorate the beginning fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham centuries earlier. That day, Israel was to enter the “promised land” and start its conquest of Canaan.

The Memorial Day that we celebrate in the United States began with the ending of the Civil War. Since then, our country has added many memorials. Each of them, whether a mere plaque, a lone statue to a notable person, or a vast and sweeping edifice, are all intended to remember some significant event and the people who made history during that time. Typically, we honor the dead who paid the ultimate price that we might live on—and we should. There are others, though, whose sacrifices in time and treasure were enormous. May our thanks this day “remember” all of them. HMM III

Master Your Own Medium

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

—2 Timothy 2:15

Among the countless gifts of God, one of the most precious to us is our beautiful, expressive English tongue. That such a gift should be neglected by busy men and women in their wild race to make a living is at least understandable, if unfortunate; but that it should be neglected as well by the ministers of the sanctuary is not only impossible to understand but completely inexcusable.

For the very reason that God has committed His saving truth to the receptacle of human language, the man who preaches that truth should be more than ordinarily skillful in the use of language. It is necessary that every artist master his medium, every musician his instrument. For a man calling himself a concert pianist to appear before an audience with but a beginner’s acquaintance with the keyboard would be no more absurd than for a minister of the gospel to appear before his congregation without a thorough knowledge of the language in which he expects to preach.   SIZ041-042

Help me to be a faithful servant, Lord, skilled in the task to which You have called me. Amen.


Father; we are the clay, and Thou our potter

Now, O Lord, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our potter; and we all are the work of Thy hand.—Isaiah 64:8.

To be conformed to the image of His Son.—Romans 8:29.


Thou shalt do what

Thou wilt with Thine own hand.

Thou form’st the spirit like the molded clay;

For those who love Thee keep Thy just command,

And in Thine image grow as they obey.

Jones Very.


He, who hath appointed thee thy task, will proportion it to thy strength, and thy strength to the burden which He lays upon thee. He who maketh the seed grow thou knowest not how, and seest not, will, thou knowest not how, ripen the seed which He hath sown in thy heart, and leaven thee by the secret workings of His good Spirit. Thou mayest not see the change thyself, but He will gradually change thee, make thee another man. Only yield thyself to His molding hand, as clay to the potter, having no wishes of thy own, but seeking in sincerity, however faint, to have His will fulfilled in thee, and He will teach thee what to pray for, and will give thee what He teacheth thee. He will retrace His own image on thee line by line, effacing by His grace and gracious discipline the marks and spots of sin which have defaced it.

Edward B. Pusey.


As The Life, So is the Fruit

“For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2Peter 1:8

If we desire to glorify our Lord by fruitfulness we must have certain things within us; for nothing can come out of us which is not first of all within us. We must begin with faith, which is the groundwork of all the virtues; and then diligently add to it virtue, knowledge, temperance, and patience. With these we must have godliness and brotherly love. All these put together will most assuredly cause us to produce, as our life fruit, the clusters of usefulness, and we shall not be mere idle knowers, but real doers of the Word. These holy things must not only be in us, but abound, or we shall be barren. Fruit is the overflow of life, and we must be full before we can flow over.

We have noticed men of considerable parts and opportunities who have never succeeded in doing real good in the conversion of souls; and after close observation we have concluded that they lacked certain graces which are absolutely essential to fruit-bearing. For real usefulness, graces are better than gifts. As the man is, so is his work. If we would do better we must be better. Let the text be a gentle hint to unfruitful professors, and to myself also.