One of the friends I have made in this past three year’s journey is Milam Byers. Quickly after meeting him and his brother, Jared, I saw first-hand the pain and grief that existed in their entire extended family. Their brother, son, brother-in-law, and uncle, who gave his life as a sacrifice in service to our nation.
After hearing their story, one of my initial thoughts was, for this family, and all the others who have lost family members to war, freedom is no longer free to them. It has cost them something—someone—forever. While we certainly must remember each fallen hero, we must neither forget the families left behind who have sacrificed so much for our nation as well. Christmases, birthdays, and family gatherings forever have an empty chair and each family member has an irreplaceable void in their hearts. The soldier paid the ultimate price, but the families of the fallen pay a high price every day in the absence of the hero now gone.
In brief, here is the story of Josh’s sacrifice and bravery…
Just four months into the war in Iraq, a Humvee was leading a convoy of soldiers between Ar Ramadi and Fallujah when an IED, a hidden bomb in the road, exploded as the vehicle rolled over it. As the blast blew through the armor, Captain Josh Byers, 29, called out, “Sergeant, we’ve hit an IED. Keep moving forward!” The sergeant hit the gas, the vehicle rolled on, but soon came to a stop from the damage. Investigators said by not stopping at the moment of the blast, at least two lives were saved. Ironically, as the smoke cleared, the other soldiers realized Captain Byers was dead. No one is certain how he was able to calmly give the order to “keep moving forward,” when he was mortally wounded and died seconds later.
He was known by all who worked and served with him to be a strong man of God who was very open about his faith in Jesus Christ. General Charles “Hondo” Campbell said of Byers, “As a soldier and a leader, Josh was others-focused, a servant-leader, and a Christian soldier.”
Captain Byers’ life was marked and changed by Christ, so death had no victory. The testimony of his life will forever be his legacy and far outlive him.
On this Memorial Day, I respectfully echo Josh’s brave words and exemplary life to honor and encourage the families left behind today: Keep moving forward. Stand firm in Christ.
The bodies we now have are weak and can die. But they will be changed into bodies that are eternal. Then the Scriptures will come true, “Death has lost the battle!Where is its victory? Where is its sting?” Sin is what gives death its sting, and the Law is the power behind sin. But thank God for letting our Lord Jesus Christ give us the victory! My dear friends, stand firm and don’t be shaken. —1 Corinthians 15:54b-58a CEV