Today’s Reading: Alma 53:20-22
20 And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all—they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted.
21 Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and towalk uprightly before him.
22 And now it came to pass that Helaman did march at the head of his two thousand stripling soldiers, to the support of the people in the borders of the land on the south by the west sea.
I grew up as a military brat. My dad was a member of the Marine Corps. Both my grandpas served in the Army during the Korean War. My cousin and his wife both served in the Army in Iraq. I am proud of our nation’s armed forces. And, I am even prouder of those Christians who serve and protect our country. It is they that truly keep to Captain Moroni’s call to protect God, religion, family, and freedom.
What amazes me, though, are the LDS members in the armed forces and the protective federal positions. As I was growing up, my dad was stationed at the Navy Yard, Henderson Hall (the USMC version of the Pentagon), and Quantico (the largest USMC logistics base)…all these were within 30 miles of each other…all in Northern Virginia and/or D.C. So, military miracle: I was able to stay in the same ward for EIGHT YEARS! But, the wards in my stake were always in flux. We had so many members of the priesthood belonging to all the different branches of the military: army, coast guard, marine corps, navy, air force. But, we also had many members of the priesthood working for the federal government in the CIA and FBI and other protective services. Seriously. The majority of the priesthood in my ward (which was in flux every three years or so due to military tours), were in these positions.
I remember during one fireside, a member of the high priests came to talk to us. He was a member of the FBI. He talked about what he did, and how he got the job. Then, he said something that I have always kept with me: “The FBI loves hiring Mormons. Yes, we have language skills from foreign missions, but we are honest.” He also talked about other virtues that were looked for: soberness, good work ethic, patriotism, courage, and many more that mirror the characteristics of the stripling warriors.
I know for a fact that having these virtues and characteristics will keep us safe, both spiritually and physically. It wasn’t just the stripling warriors that were protected in battle because they lived what their parents taught them. My cousin served in Iraq during the war. Even in the desert heat and with all his military clothing and items he had to wear and carry, he still wore his garments.
One day, he and his squad were on break in a little restaurant in Baghdad. A car bomb went off directly outside. My cousin received some injuries, but everyone else in his squad died from the bomb. He swears to us that the only reason he was saved was because he kept his covenants and wore his garments.
Now, not all of us are going to rush and join the armed forces, and I’m not suggesting that. But, I truly have a testimony that if we give heed to the story of the 2000 stripling warriors, and live by their example, and work toward the characteristics that they had, we will be safe as we go through our trials in life.
Elder M. Russell Ballard said,
We look to you, my young brethren of the Aaronic Priesthood. We need you. Like Helaman’s 2,000 stripling warriors, you also are the spirit sons of God, and you too can be endowed with power to build up and defend His kingdom. We need you to make sacred covenants, just as they did. We need you to be meticulously obedient and faithful, just as they were” (“The Greatest Generation of Missionaries,”Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2002, 47).
As for me, I want to be like the mothers in that story–I want to teach my son righteous principles and I want him to live them. And I have faith that will happen.