A true hero makes life better

By Joan Clayton: Religion columnist

America’s heroes are innumerable. Countless numbers have given their lives that you and I might enjoy the freedoms we have. 
From the signing of the Declaration of Independence to the present war in Iraq and all the sacrifices in between, those who gave their lives are too many to count. We must never forget all of those who fought. 
“The greatest love a person can show is to die for his friends”  (John 15:13 NCV).
The real heroes are the ones who have made this nation “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” 
Our debt of gratitude cannot be measured. Whenever you see a serviceman or woman, stop and tell them you appreciate their service to this country. You will find these unselfish individuals in the armed services defending a land they believe in … one that many have died for to preserve a nation. 
They are guided by a conscience that sets aside personal desires for themselves in order to pursue the good of the nation as a whole.
The eleventh chapter of Hebrews talks about the great heroes of the Bible. In that hall of faith were great men and women who knew the things they believed in were waiting, even though they could not see them with their natural eyes. 
We learn a lot from these godly patriarchs. Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and David, among many others, were men who trusted God and held onto their faith in the midst of extremely harsh circumstances.  
Many soldiers have not lived to see the freedom they believed in, but they fought for others to see it.
To stand for honesty and integrity is not always easy or popular. It takes real courage and faith to do the right thing, knowing that life isn’t always fair. Strength of character does the right thing anyway.
Those who have died, those who are sacrificing their lives today and war veterans are my heroes. They have many stories to tell and they are America’s greatest. These men and women take a stand for accountability, responsibility and honesty.
They are the real patriots and they deserve our support, unity and appreciation. They are decent, hard-working people who love America and what it stands for. They are the backbone of this nation and they keep this country together.
May all of us keep striving to leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren worthy of the lives of the many who have died to protect it.
Hebrews 12:12 in The Living Bible admonishes us to not lose heart: “So take a new grip with your tired hands, stand firm on your shaky legs, and mark out a straight, smooth path for your feet so that those who follow you, though weak and lame, will not fall and hurt themselves, but become strong.”
Let us all unite to fight a common enemy. Let us keep on and never give up. May we take a stand for righteousness:  “Godliness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people”  (Proverbs 14:34).
On this Fourth of July let there be a beginning for the return of patriotism, deep love and an appreciation for this beloved USA.  We celebrate this holiday because our forefathers were willing to die rather than to be ruled by tyranny.
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). We will honor “Old Glory.” We will live by the truths this country was founded upon. We will have a tear in our eye and have our hand over our heart when we hear “The Star Spangled Banner” played. After the last note is sung, we will say “Amen.” 
Amen to freedom. Amen to patriotism. Amen to America.
I love America and I’m proud to be an American!
Portales resident Joan Clayton is a retired teacher and published author. Her e-mail address is: