He pulled up in a pickup truck. The disability license plate was the first reminder during our visit last week that my college buddy experienced a lot of action fighting for the US Army 18th Airborne Corps as a paratrooper and logistician in St. Croix (officially recorded as a "humanitarian mission"), Panama, Somalia, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Christopher Hills enlisted in the Army as a private in 1987, was later commissioned as an officer, and was medically retired due to the degeneration of combat wounds in 1994. He was called back into service after 9/11 by the state of Ohio in support of homeland security. He retired from the Ohio Military Reserve in 2010 as a lieutenant colonel.
As we reminisced while walking the Grove City College campus, his uneven gate was another sign that he gave much of his life to deadly firefights defending our nation's freedom. It wasn't until we were well into lunch that I noticed the permanent dark rings beneath his eyes. "I was in Panama last night," he said. "I got about one hour of sleep." This was a typical night for Hills. He doesn't get much rest due to recurring nightmares of foreign engagements.
Chris Hills doesn't sleep well, he nearly lost his life, and he lives with pain and memories of death. Yet, if Hills were able, he would eagerly run to a battlefield today if called to defend our liberty. As he recounted some of his military experiences, I silently wondered whether we Americans are being good stewards of the incredible sacrifices that servicemen like Hills, along with their families, have made as our government swells, regulations increase, morality declines, and our freedoms diminish. Without expressing my thinking on this subject, I asked Hills to share his Independence Day thoughts with WORLDmag.com readers. Here's an excerpt:
"As the Fourth arrives again this year I have been thanked by a small number of my friends and acquaintances for serving in the military in time of war. While unexpected and greatly appreciated, and I take them on behalf of my combat brethren both living and dead, I find these sentiments misguided. Not that I am ungrateful for the few who remember our service, but rather that they choose this occasion to remember us.
"You see, the Fourth of July is NOT about our servicemen. Don't get me wrong, it is perfectly acceptable and appropriate to thank them any time of year, but our involvement in the initial and ongoing independence of this country was simply as a tool. . . . There would have been no independence without the total commitment of our countrymen to the concept of freedom (religious, economic, and political). . . . The citizens of our country gave their all for our freedom and many of the men who signed our Declaration of Independence lost jobs, wealth, status, ancestral homes, sons, and even their own lives and they did so willingly. Their commitment to this concept of freedom, and God's blessings, are what made us free. The Fourth of July is a celebration of our ancestors and their commitment to creating a God-fearing country where we all can be free.
". . . My question is where are the citizens of conviction that lay it all on the line for religion, economic opportunity, and personal conviction? Have we lost our base and direction? Is our personal compass so inwardly focused that we can't even remember what this country was founded on and then work to keep it alive?
"If so, then find a veteran and thank them for their service because they truly are the last living patriots in this country. Moreover, if that is the case, we should all be mourning not celebrating. May God bless our troops, our leaders, and our citizens on this critical day of reflection."
Patriot Christopher Hills loves his country and knows firsthand the sacrifices made for our freedom. May we all be inspired by his thoughts and service today.