Focus on the Family Broadcast

Paying Respects to Our Nation’s Fallen Heroes

Paying Respects to Our Nation’s Fallen Heroes

Lieutenant Colonel Allen West reminds us of the true meaning of Memorial Day – it’s an opportunity to remember and respect the members of our armed forces who paid the ultimate price to defend the freedoms we enjoy in the United States.
Original Air Date: May 30, 2022


Lt. Col. Allen West: We’re not going to be able to hold this great nation, unless you all be the salt of the earth. We’re not gonna be able to hold the, the, the last gr- best hope for mankind, the United States, of America, if you all don’t stand up for Judeo-Christian faith heritage.

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John Fuller: Those are some strong insights from today’s guest, Lieutenant Colonel Allen West. And, uh, this is the Memorial Day edition of Focus on the Family. Thanks for joining us. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly. And I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, today we have an opportunity to honor the men and women of our armed forces who have died defending the freedoms we hold dear. And that’s what Memorial Day is about. And today’s guest has seen those sacrifices up close. During his 22-year career in the U.S., Army Colonel West served in several combat zones and received many honors for valor, including a Bronze Star. He has also been involved in politics, most notably serving as a U.S. Congressman. And is a conservative media commentator.

John: And here now is Colonel Allen West speaking at an event hosted by Wingmen Ministries on Memorial Day, just last year.

Audience: Applause.

Allen: Uh, you’re too kind. Thanks a lot. Thank you. I, I heard there’s a lot of aviators here.

Audience: Oh yeah.

Allen: Yeah? Raise your hand. Are you go- a me- A bunch of showoffs.

Audience: (laughs)

Allen:  Okay. Real men jump out of airplanes. Okay. They all have to stand.

Audience: (laughs)

Allen: It is, it is a, it is a blessing to be here. And, uh, guys, what a great time to stand before you and, and share some thoughts, perspectives, and insights because it is Memorial Day. And what I want to challenge you to do as you go out this weekend, don’t say happy Memorial Day, it’s honor Memorial Day. It’s honoring the sacrifices of men and women that have gone before so that we can be here, here to just enjoy the blessings of liberty and freedom.

Allen: So instead of taking your kids or your grandkids out for a barbecue, or taking them over to a Rangers game to get a overpriced hot dog or taking them somewhere where, you know, the… the pools are open or a furniture sale or whatever, take ’em to a national cemetery, take ’em to walk amongst the garden of stone so that they can understand what it means to be an American, what it means to live here. Because if we don’t do that, if we don’t tell those stories, if we don’t pass these things on to subsequent generations, then it does just become a day of pools opening, barbecues, baseball games, or what have you. That’s the importance of Memorial Day.

Allen: And so with that being said, I wanna share a verse with you that kind of sets the stage for I want to talk to you about today. It comes from John 15:13. “Greater love has no one than this. That one laid down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I’ll call you slaves. But the slave does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends for all the things that I have heard from my Father. I have made known to you”. How many folks here have seen the movie Saving Private Ryan? I’m sure everybody’s seen Saving Private Ryan. I’m sure it’s gonna be on this Memorial Day weekend. But there’s a great part, little vignette at the end of Saving Private Ryan that I really think is the most important part of that movie. And I wanna share that with you because I think is, has a message that is relevant for us today. As Tom Hanks, Captain Miller, the character there, has been shot and he’s bleeding out. Remember he had given up his entire company for just a few of his rangers to go find one person, one soul, to save that soul so, that they could have a life, ’cause of all of his other brothers had died in the Pacific and the European theater.

Allen: And so as Matt Damon kneels down closer to Tom Hanks, he whispers two simple words, earn this. Earn this. And when you think about it, then it fast forwards to the grown-up Ryan standing there at Normandy before the final resting spot of Captain Miller. And he turns over to his wife and he says, tell me that I was a good man. Tell me that I lived a good life. See, that’s the lesson that I want you to think about this Memorial Day. But I also want you to think about it, as Christian men, that greater lesson. Because just the same as Tom Hanks whispered over to young Private Ryan to earn this, our Lord and savior Jesus Christ is whispering to us as well. Saying, earn this, earn the sacrifice. Because he came down to save just one soul and one soul and one soul and one soul, to rescue them from harm and danger, because he did not want to see you fall like maybe some of your other brothers had done. But when you look at where we are in the United States of America today, are we truly living up to that challenge of earning this? When you think about what is going on in the country, I mean, we have gone from just murdering unborn babies to now murdering born babies. Are we earning this? When you look at the incredible freedoms and liberties that we have in this constitutional republic, you go back and think about those incredibly brave men on April the 19th of 1775 who stepped out on Lexington Green. See, there was no army. There was no navy. There was no Marine Corps. There was no United States of America. There was no federal government. There were just people that believed in freedom and liberty. And they stepped out and they made a sacrifice so that we could be here today. Are we earning that sacrifice? That goes back 244 years, that continues on to today. Somewhere, someplace in the world today, a young soldier, sailor, airman, marine, a coast guardsman is going out on patrol. They’re jumping to a cockpit of a, an aircraft. They’re standing on an aircraft carrier, getting ready to launch. They’re going out on freedom’s ramparts for each and every one of us so we can have these freedoms and liberties. But are we truly earning it? It’s really nice when you see these young men and women in uniform and you come up to ’em you say, thank you for your service, but are you earning the service that they are giving with these blessings that they are bestowing upon you? And just the same, ask yourself every single day, when you walk out, when you come back in at the end of the day, did you earn the blessings of the sacrifice of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ? Cause I gotta tell you, I think that we as Christians, we gotta stand up.

Allen: Too often, for whatever reason, we are afraid to confront this evil that we see. And, and I’m gonna be honest. And I know they’re taping. It’s evil. I’m sorry. I’m gonna call it for what it is. You know, the, the, the, the Canaanites. Joshua warned the Israelites in his farewell speech. He said, choose for yourselves today whom you shall serve. Being the gods of the Amorites or gods from across the river. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  And when you shift over to Judges, not too long after, the Israelites, they didn’t earn it. The next thing you know, they start hanging out, worshiping the Baals and all the other gods. One of the gods of the Baals and the Canaanites was the god Molech. You know what Molech was the god of? Child sacrifice. And so we have that right here today because we are not going out each and every day and earning it. We’re not sitting down with our children and grandchildren and talking to them about the ultimate sacrifice of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

Allen: I mean, Abraham Lincoln talked about it when he was there at the Gettysburg dedication of the national cemetery there after the Getty- battle, Battle of Gettysburg. And he talked about the last full measure of devotion. That’s what John 15 and 13 is all about. That last full measure of devotion. The fact that someone would go to the cross for our sins. But what are we doing to earn that? That’s the challenge for us each and every day.

John: You’re listening to Lieutenant Colonel Allen West on this special Memorial Day edition of Focus on the Family. And you can get a CD of this program to listen to it again or share with a friend for a gift of any amount today at Or call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. Let’s return now to more from Allen West.

Allen: You know, again, the, the challenges in America, when Benjamin Franklin came out of Constitution Hall, the date that our constitution was signed 17th September 1787. And a woman came up to Benjamin Franklin and said, well, doctor, what is it that we have? A republic or a monarchy? Franklin replied, a republic if you can keep it. And then George Washington came back and said, you must study and read its laws in order to keep it. Just the same, our Lord and savior Jesus Christ is saying, you gotta keep this, but you must bury yourself in my word. You must study my word. And you remember, you know, do not turn from it from the right or to the left. That’s what God told Joshua when he took over to be strong and of good courage. That’s what I’m challenging you men to do. It was so lovely to hear your voices in that stentorian manner, come together this morning to sing. But when you leave out of these doors, you gotta be ready to go out and sing solo, no matter what confronts you. Because that’s the challenge of earning the sacrifice that our Lord and savior made for us each and every day. We’re not going to be able to hold this great nation unless you all be the salt of the earth. We’re not gonna be able to hold the, the, the last gr- best hope for mankind, the United States of America, if you all don’t stand up for Judeo-Christian faith heritage. Now I hear that this is the last meeting for the summer. Guess what happens over the summer? Your kids are out of school, but that doesn’t mean that you stop teaching them. And you start teaching them about what it means to earn this every day. It could have been very easy when my folks dropped me off back in 1979, Knoxville, Tennessee, at the University of Tennessee at Hess Hall. I could have gone off in a different direction. But as I watched them walk out, I said, I gotta make them proud of me. Because I knew that when I was there, my dad had given me a challenge. My dad had given me the challenge to be the first officer in our family, ’cause dad was just a simple corporal, United States Army in World War II. My older brother, just a simple marine, Lance corporal, Vietnam, wounded in Khe Sahn. And they challenged me at 15. They basically told me to earn this. Earn a right to be part of our family. Earn a right to be a part of the heritage, of service, sacrifice, and commitment that we have made. And they had seen men die on battlefields. So 31, July 1982, dad was on the right shoulder, mom was on their left shoulder. And they pinned on second lieutenant bars for me. Find something to challenge your children and your grandchildren to do. And I think the greatest challenge is for them to understand the sacrifices that men and women have made throughout history in the United States of America. And a certain man had made a Calvary for their eternal life and for their soul. If we don’t do this, guys, someone else is waiting out there to do it. And your kid’s gonna come home and you’re not gonna recognize them. And they’re gonna tell you, you don’t know what you’re talking about. (laughs) I don’t want to hear it. I gotta tell you, if I ever ever told that to my mommy and daddy, (laughs) there’d be a different person speaking for y’all here today. Okay? (laughs) But that’s what you need to be. You need to be strong and forceful and saying this will not stand in my house. So start that today.

Allen: How many of you can take the time on Memorial Day and go to the national cemetery with your children or your grandchildren? Just tell ’em, this is what we’re gonna do. And walk by and just pick out a name and talk to them about this person died in World War II. Or this person died in the Korean War. This person died Vietnam. And ex- explained to them what that means. You know why that’s so important? How many here have heard of the Bladensburg cross. Okay? The Bladensburg cross in Bladensburg, Maryland, is a Memorial to 41 young men who died from that city in World War I. In 2011, we lost our last World War I veteran. Man by the name of Frank Buckles. He was 110 years of age. A couple of people were driving by the Bladensburg cross, and they decided that it offended them. So they went and they made a complaint. And they went through the court system. And the Bladensburg cross was scheduled to be torn down. To keep the Bladensburg cross up, that had to go all the way to the highest court in the land. Now, think about this. I don’t know if any of you went to see that incredible movie done by Peter Jackson called, They Should Never Grow Old. It’s about the restoration of film from World War I. Here we are in America want to tear down a cross, a memorial, a monument to 41 who had lost their lives in that great war, the war to end our wars. They had gone over there. How can we say that we are earning it when we want to do that? How can we say that we are earning the divine providence that our founding fathers asked for in the declaration of independence when we are trying to push everything about our Judeo-Christian faith heritage out of the open marketplace? See, there’s a reason we seen God bless America. And we don’t sing government bless America. We don’t sing Mr. President or Miss President bless America. We don’t sing Republican, or Democrat bless America. We recognize from whence our incredible blessings come from. But if you are not careful, if you don’t earn this each and every day, that will be gone. Because secular humanism is on the rise here in the United States of America. And the reason why secular humanism is on the rise in America, because there are people that wanna believe that they’re the ones that bestow upon you your rights. But if you think about it, Thomas Jefferson wrote that you’re an alien of a rights are not endowed to you by man, of these being life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They’re endowed to you by a creator. But if you don’t go out every day and fight and earn that and understand that, then someone will come along, and they will pour honey in the ears. And all of a sudden, well, I can give you healthcare. I can give you a free housing. I can give you free college education. I will relieve your debt. And the next thing you know, you bow down to the Baals. You don’t bow down to the God that Joshua said, as for me and my house, we would choose to serve the Lord. I just have a simple message for you today that ties into this incredible weekend. It’s all about the ultimate sacrifice that you can be here today. It’s the ultimate sacrifice of men and women that have gone before us, that allow us to live in the greatest nation that the world has ever known. That’s your earthly life. But it’s the ultimate sacrifice of the man from Galilee who carried that cross up the Calvary. Who bled much the same as Captain Miller bled in that movie. And just the same as Captain Miller said those two words, our Lord and savior Jesus Christ is whispering those two words to us right now. And he’s saying, earn this. We have our blessing in internal life, but we need to continue to fight for it right here in the now. Because there’s only a few words that you should live to want to hear. That is well done, thou good and faithful servant. Welcome home.

John: What a timely reminder of our responsibilities as citizens of this great nation and as Christian men and women from Lieutenant Colonel Allen West on this special Memorial Day edition of Focus on the Family.

Jim: That was an excellent presentation, John. And our thanks go out to Colonel West and the folks at Wingmen Ministries for allowing us to share it with you. Uh, I really appreciated how Colonel West used the phrase, earn this, from the movie, Saving Private Ryan. What a vivid reminder of our obligation to honor and respect those brave men and women who died defending the freedoms we enjoy. And as Colonel West said, we should all be at our local cemeteries honoring our veterans today and their families. They have given their all for our country. And I’ll never forget an experience I had, uh, late one night near the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. I’d been in meetings all day and went for a run at about 11 o’clock at night with my friend, uh, Roger Srerd. And as we ran from the Capitol Dome toward the Lincoln Memorial, uh, I tried to stop at the wall. And that’s where over 58,000 service members names are recorded, who died as a result of the Vietnam War. But Roger stopped dead in his tracks and tears begin to fall from his eyes. And he said, I, I just can’t do it. I can’t go over there. And it turned out that Roger, a, a former army ranger, had been in the infantry as a commander in Vietnam. And at the height of the conflict, his company’s helicopters had been shot out of the sky into a nameless rice patty where they were cornered and held down by enemy fire. It, it was a brutal blood bath. And, uh, the man next to Roger was shot and killed. 12 soldiers died that night. And the survivors weren’t rescued until the next morning. As a commander of that mission, Roger felt that responsibility for every man who met his earthly end that night. And all those years later, he still struggled with those violent memories. Um, there was nothing he could have done differently, but the pain of war doesn’t subside quickly. And that’s the cost of freedom. And those are the heroes we salute on Memorial Day. Uh, let me just say, if you’ve lost someone who was serving our country, my heart goes out to you. And I pray the Lord will be your comfort in the days ahead.

John: Mm. And we do, as a ministry, wanna say, thank you for your service and, uh, the service of your loved one as well.

Jim: Indeed. And let me make one last point about Colonel West’s presentation. He also used the phrase, earn this, in regard to our Christian faith and Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. Now, we know that none of us can earn our salvation. And that wasn’t Colonel West’s point. He is urging us to never take the death of our Lord for granted. He’s encouraging us to honor it, to treasure it, and remember it, and dedicate our lives to serving him out of gratitude for his great sacrifice for us.

John: Now, that’s a really good point, Jim.

Jim: Well, and remember, I, if this broadcast brought up a painful issue for you, please visit us online for some follow up articles or give us a call. Our friendly staff members would count it a privilege to hear your concerns, pray with you. And if your situation warrants it, arrange for a callback from one of our caring Christian counselors. And let me give a big shout out to our donors who make it possible for us to offer our counseling services free of charge. We couldn’t do it without you. And if you can make a donation of any amount today to do that great work, we’d like to send you a CD copy of this presentation from Colonel West as our way of saying thank you.

John: Request your CD to share with someone else or listen to again at Or call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. Next time, we’ll hear from Bri McKoy, uh, who will remind us of the heart behind fellowship and hospitality.

Bri McKoy: We are supposed to be responsive to the Holy Spirit. And we are supposed to show up and love like Jesus did, invite people’s stories into our lives like Jesus did, and show compassion.

John: On behalf of Jim Daly, I’m John Fuller, thanking you for joining us for this special Memorial Day edition of Focus on the Family. And as we close, we’ll share some memories from family members of our fallen heroes.

Bruce: Well, it was December 7th, 1941, and my Uncle Milburn Manning was uh … stationed at the Kaneohe Naval Air Station near Pearl Harbor. And uh … when the attack started, he jumped into a … a sandbag bunker and grabbed hold of a 50-caliber machine gun and began fighting (Sound of machine gun) back. And as fate would have it, he was nearly cut in two with machine gun fire from the enemy aircraft (Sound of airplane) uh … and then he died because … as a result of those wounds. So, here on Memorial Day, I really want to honor my Uncle Milburn. You gotta hand it to these guys. They just gave it all, and so many of them.
Marilyn: My brother, Glen Howard Rippleton, was killed in 1951. He was a fighter pilot. He flew in Korea and uh … he gave his life for our country.

Jamie: Corporal Benjamin Keith Roushenberger is (sic) 25 years old, was killed April 15, 2013. He was 4 1/2 years in the Marines. We love you and miss you, and we can’t wait to see you in Heaven.

Mickey: Bruno and Uncle Mikey went MIA. Bruno came back in a body bag, and Uncle Mikey was never found. They gave their lives for this country. (emotion)

Evelyn: I just want to honor my daddy that was killed in France, December the third, 1944. I still remember him and think about him. His name was Crandall Pierson.
Robert: I’m calling on behalf of two of my friends that I went to high school with that were killed in the Vietnam War—Doug Harp, U.S. Marine, killed in 1965, Capt. Tom Reeser, Air Force pilot, flew B-52s, killed over Cambodia, 1971. I was blessed in 1961 to have played on a football team that was ranked in some polls, Number 1 in the country, Number 2 in the country. Doug and Tom were both all-state All-Americans and couldn’t have been better people. Still got the pain in my heart for ‘em. This goes out for them.
Vicki: I’d like to pay tribute to my uncle Bernard Propson. He died in Cambodia in about 1970. One of my earliest childhood memories is of his funeral. He was a Green Beret, so they carried his casket to the cemetery. It was the first time I saw my father cry, and what I always remember, when I hear Taps being played, I remember that sound, and it has been forever put into my memory.

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