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Geralds Story - A Tribute to Valor

John 15:13
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

June 6, 1944... So long ago, on a beach so far from the heartland of America, the course of history was changed. The liberation of Europe began, and the life of T/Sgt Gerald Henderson ended.

This is the report of his death given when the Distinguished Service Cross was awarded to his family after the war ended.

"For extraordinary heroism against the enemy on June 6, 1944, in Normandy France, on D-day, Technical Sergeant Henderson, while exposed to intense enemy artillery, mortar, machine-gun, and small arms fire, heroically supervised the unloading of men and vehicles from his landing craft. Observing that a vehicle from an adjoining landing craft had stalled, he voluntarily drove a truck along the fire swept beech, plunged into the water, and fastened a cable to the vehicle. After towing it safely to shore, he personally carried two wounded occupants to safety and rendered first aid. He returned to the beach and amid bursting shells and devastating small arms fire, courageously continuing his rescue work. While carrying a wounded soldier across the beach to a position of safety a shell landed near this valiant soldier fatally wounding him. His heroic achievements in the initial landing resulted in the saving of many lives and much vital equipment. The self sacrificing devotion to duty, personal bravery and valorous leadership displayed by Technical Sergeant Henderson exemplified the highest tradition of the armed forces. (Auth GO 92, HQ, 21st US Army, 18th infantry, antitank company)"


I wonder about the men he carried to the safety of the cliffs. I wonder if they knew Gerald in the first place or if they were just strangers in need of help. I wonder if they survived the war. Did they have children already who would have lost their father that day. Were they married? Did their mothers learn that their sons were saved, but Gerald's mother lost her son that day?

And mostly I wonder what these men did with the rest of their lives? Since Gerald's life was cut short so their lives could run a natural course, did they feel any obligation to live their lives in a way that would make Gerald think his sacrifice was worth it that day?

Today, other soldiers are fighting all over the globe. It isn't called a world war this time, but it surely appears to be one. And I know bravery and self sacrifice are not limited to any one generation. There are soldiers today who may wish things were different, but never the less, they will do their duty to the highest measure necessary.

But bravery and self sacrifice are not limited to the battlefield. That is just the obvious place people look for such heroism. In truth, bravery worthy of the highest honor is present all around us, in all levels of society, economics, and cultural variances. The character that allows such bravery to defy extreme adversity is built daily in the lives of men and women and children who just get up and do what is required of them every day. Most days it isn't that hard. Some days it is very hard. And on that occasional day when doing one's duty seems impossible, the individual who has already set the habit of "just getting the job done" will just get the job done that day as well.

I have heard the question, "Have you thanked a vet today?" asked many times over the years. I suppose the question is supposed to make us think of the price paid for our freedom and the American way of life. But how would you thank the veterans who did not return? A proper tribute is in the way each of us lives our lives. There are three things everyone who lives with the blessing of freedom should do.

First, fully acknowledge that complete freedom is only possible through Jesus Christ. But he uses all sorts of people to allow us the freedom we enjoy in every day life

Second, only accept the boundaries in our lives that are imposed by God and national law that doesn't contradict God's law. This means DO love God, keep the commandments, treat others the way you want to be treated, be moderate, and be modest. It also means DO NOT allow your self to be ruled by political correctness, social acceptability, or peer pressure. These things will only add unnecessary complications to your life and hinder you from doing whatever God actually has for you to do.

Third, lay down your life. Surrender to God. True surrender means agreeing to do what God asks of you before you actually know what it is. Then it means doing what you know to do every day. The husband and father who provides for his family often has to set aside many personal wants and ambitions to do what is best for his family. The mother who cares for her children 24 hours a day has to lay down things she wants to do in order to do what needs to be done. The child who obeys his or her parents will set aside their own desire in order to be obedient. Just do your duty - in full measure. What ever your race is for the day - just do it as well and cheerfully as possible.

In full surrender to God, and consistent completion of duty - you will come to realize that your fulfillment could not be greater, and your joy will only grow greater. You will be taking full advantage of the freedom provided by God, and all those He used to provide your freedom. You will effectively have "thanked a vet" by the way you live your life.

Gerald's Song

Our freedom was bought by soldiers of honor, who sleep in the valley of the shadow of death.

Now weeping endures for the night but God promised, joy comes in the morning with a trump and a shout.

I'll see you tomorrow when the trumpet shall sound, the death song from sorrow to victory resounds.

Grave clothes all changed for white robes and crowns, I'll see you and know you when the trumpet shall sound.

Your face in the picture, your laugh in my mind, all fade and grow dimmer one day at a time.

The words on the tombstone may weather away, but your name is on the Father's hand awaiting that day.

I'll see you tomorrow when the trumpet shall sound, the death song from sorrow to victory resounds. Grave clothes all changed for white robes and crowns, I'll see you and know you when the trumpet shall sound.

Our redemption was bought by God's son the Savior, crucified, buried, but rose up the third day.

Ascended to heaven to be with the Father, but coming back to receive us with a trump and a shout.

I'll see you tomorrow when the trumpet shall sound, the death song from sorrow to victory resounds.

Grave clothes all changed for white robes and crowns, I'll see you and know you when the trumpet shall sound.

I wrote these lyrics - but I need someone to write music to go with the lyrics.


Barbara Henderson
Christian, wife, mother, grandmother, writer, artist

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