I had the privilege of listening to Medal of Honor (MOH) recipient Sergeant Gary Beikirch at a prayer breakfast this morning. SGT Beikirch served as a US Special Forces during the war in Vietnam. You can find his story here:
He didn’t share any stories of combat but instead, during the breakfast, he shared his story of lying in a hospital bed after having been shot three times.
He fought to remain conscious. In that hospital bed, he struggled to keep awake. He wondered as his mind drifted into unconsciousness, “Is this it?”… and then experienced immense gratitude later for having awoken.
There was a moment in which he woke up to witness a Soldier in the hospital bed beside him take his last breath, and then watch as the nurses pull the white sheet over the Soldier’s face.
He wondered, “How did I get here?”
He told the story in a very moving way. I noticed one woman to my right gently pat a napkin to her eyes. Another woman, just a few tables from her, was shaking her head, hands over her mouth.
RUNNING ON EMPTY
Accession through Special Forces proves incredibly grueling. SGT Beikirch shared that he held a certain place inside himself where he found the strength to continue that extra mile even after exhaustion. A place in which he stored a vast supply of inner wealth, to compel him forward.
In that hospital bed, he searched that powerful place inside himself.
He found it empty.
He felt he had nothing left.
He was 24 at the time.
A chaplain came by. SGT Beikirch said that he had never prayed before. Didn’t know how. Never felt he needed it. The chaplain guided him through prayer. SGT Beikirch has shared the message since.
The lesson he imparted was the importance of having a vision. That’s how he opened the talk. He shared a quote from Hellen Keller, who lamented how “terrible it is to see, but have no vision.”
SOCIAL SKILLS, LEADERSHIP SKILLS
My youngest son, compared to his twin sister, exhibits rather poor social skills. Perhaps average for a boy his age. That’s okay with me. Social skills aren’t his goal anyway. I’m looking to help him develop leadership skills.
It’s extremely importantly to connect with others, but for me it’s not enough. Especially for a boy. A man. Others will look to him to take them somewhere better. To lead.
And life will put him in that position whether he wants it or not. He’ll become a father one day. He’ll get a job or become an entrepreneur. He’ll play sports. One day, he’ll find himself leading.
SGT Beikirch said that what guides one through difficulty, through challenge, through pain or suffering, is a vision. A vision of something better. A better life. The vision captures what’s meaningful. It represents the reason to continue.
Having a vision is what draws us to some more than others. We can share that. We can define that.