Good from bad

You’re old enough to kill, but not for votin’
You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’?
And even the Jordan river has bodies floatin’
And you tell me over and over and over again, my friend
You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction?
–  Barry McGuire

Tim Lickness teaching Sunday School at Marine Corp Recruiting Center

Tim Lickness teaching Sunday School at Marine Corp Recruiting Center

If you missed our BlogTalkRadio show last night, you’re in luck. You can hear it on demand by clicking on the picture here after you read today’s Catch. I can say, after doing over 50 episodes of BlogTalkRadio, this one went by faster than any other. I didn’t even look at the clock until we were beyond our usual interview slot. I was enthralled with the stories. We’ve seen movies about the Vietnam war, we’ve seen newspaper and TV coverage, but to hear it first-hand from someone who was there, boots on the ground, in the middle of a fire-fight, watching his platoon go down one man at a time until he’s the last one standing, is nothing short of chilling. To think that 18-21-year-olds were going through experiences like this while the rest of us were wondering who would go with us to the prom is an incongruity I have never gotten over; but I must admit, last night’s show provided much catharsis for my unresolved emotions.

Tim Lickness, subject of my Catches last week, was our guest, and it was a privilege and honor to hear him speak openly and candidly of his Vietnam experience.

To add to the incongruity of those days, I remembered, while we were talking, that ROTC was required training my first two years at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois in 1966 and 1967 (It was discontinued as a requirement the following year). Three mornings a week, we mustered in uniform on the grassy field in front of the gymnasium. We studied Military Science 101, cleaned our M-1 rifles, spit-shined our shoes, and marched by the girls’ dorms shouting:

I don’t know but I’ve been told
Wheaton girls are mighty cold
Sound off! One, two!
Bring it on down! Three, four!
One, two, three, four,
One, two … THREE, FOUR!

And what this had to do with going to a Christian college, when most of the students in colleges and universities were either protesting the war or dying in it, I’ll never know, but it definitely added to the disparities of the

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We’re finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.
– lyrics by Neil Young

Out of all this confusion and disparity, Tim Lickness survived. He survived three months in a hospital in Japan, seven years of nightmares, loss of faith and trying to drink his memories away. Now he teaches the Bible regularly to new recruits and has given over a hundred lectures on his Vietnam experience to men’s groups around the country, and he’s not done. He is thrilled to have a job to do in the name of the Lord, and he’s doing it. Now he knows what this was all for.

How can something good come out of something so bad? Feel free to ask God that question about the whole world. He’s got the answer. And the answer is being lived out everywhere.

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3 Responses to Good from bad

  1. Kathy Willis says:

    John – if anyone wants to hear the stories of not only Vietnam, but of all our wars, just drop into your local VFW or American Legion, and take a listen. I’ve been doing that for the last 13 years. These veterans are like Tim (and Tim, thank you for your continuing service). They have found a way to go on. Also for anyone interested out there, take a look at the Wounded Warrior Project – a program that we hardheartedly support! I’m glad you have been really listening, and I’m glad that Tim Lickness has found his calling. A lot of veterans find their calling by helping other veterans. I thank you for bringing all this to the forefront. There are so many people out there who just don’t get it.

    Wish everyone enough.

  2. Lois Taylor says:

    This was our war, John. Family and friends fought and died in it. Thanks for bringing us full circle……from tragedy for many to reason for all who listened. God is in control. His ways are higher than our ways.

  3. Kathy Willis says:

    Of course I meant whole whole heartedly support, certainly not hardheartedly! And Lois, I totally agree, John has brought us full circle.

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