|Capt. Scotty Smiley shares his experience of tragedy and triumph.|
Military pride was evident at Liberty University as students, faculty, and staff gathered for a special Military Emphasis Week convocation on Wednesday. As one of America’s top military-friendly schools, Liberty dedicates a week each year to recognize and inspire support for the members of our Armed Forces.
During convocation, students heard from Capt. Scotty Smiley, who became the Army’s first active-duty, blind officer. A graduate of West Point, Smiley was serving as a platoon leader in Iraq in April 2005 when he permanently lost his vision as a result of an attack from a suicide car bomber.
Smiley spoke of the tragedy he faced during combat and, as a result, his bitterness toward God.
“I woke up two weeks later in Walter Reid Army Medical Center with my life torn from me,” he shared. “I said [my world] went black, but it didn’t go black just literally, it went black spiritually.”
The day that Smiley learned that he would be blind for the rest of his life, he said he began to “push forward” and claim the promise of Philippians 4:13 that he could do all things through Christ.
“It doesn’t matter if you are blind … and it doesn’t matter what disabilities you have, God still has a purpose for each and every one of us.”
Smiley, who has released a book about his life titled Hope Unseen, challenged students to look beyond the trials they face and to cling to the hope they can only find in God.
|Dr. Tim Lee was the main speaker at Wednesday's convocation.|
“I don’t believe that it’s economic hope, I don’t believe it’s social hope, and it’s definitely not political hope, it’s spiritual hope.”
Vietnam veteran and member of Liberty’s Board of Trustees Dr. Tim Lee also addressed the crowd of more than 10,000.
Lee lost both of his legs in 1971 while serving with the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. He views his disability not as a tragedy, but as an opportunity to share God’s love through his evangelical ministry.
“Some of you have been dealt hardships, some of you have had things come at you, and some of you have become bitter, and angry, and mad at God,” said Lee. “My friend, you don’t have to be bitter, you don’t have to be angry, you don’t have to be mad at God; you can have victory right here today.”
|Veterans are honored at the start of Wednesday's convocation.|
Lee said he has never been bitter. “I am lucky to be alive,” he said. “I stepped on a mine that could have blown me to a thousand different pieces, but God spared my life.”
Other campus events throughout the week include military recruiters, a trip to the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, candlelight tribute service, pre-game tailgating and halftime tribute during the Nov. 6 home football game, a post-traumatic stress disorder awareness meeting, and a special Veterans Luncheon. For a full schedule of events, click here.