Liberty University is known for wrapping itself in the American flag, paying high tribute to soldiers who have fought and died to defend freedom — and that’s especially true during Military Appreciation Week.
Starting with Monday’s convocation, LU students kicked off their tribute to those who serve our country. They listened to a video message from the mother of Jesse Strong, a former LU student and veteran killed in Iraq in January 2005, followed by the playing of “Taps” and a moving message from guest speaker and member of the LU Board of Directors Dr. Tim Lee.
“This is a place where the flag is still respected; the Bible is still honored,” Lee told students. “God the father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit are still welcome, and not every university can say that.”
The Vietnam veteran who lost both his legs while leading his men in a mine sweep in March 1971 spoke of his return journey to Saigon less than two weeks ago to preach at a Baptist church there.
“After 37 years, it was there that I gave these two legs for my country. I’ve never been bitter. I’ve never been angry. I’ve never been mad,” he told the students. “I’m fortunate to be alive, but I don’t want my legs to be given to my country in vain, and I don’t believe that they were.”
Instead, he is using his experience in Vietnam as a testimony — and his recent trip gave him a chance to connect Vietnamese believers who fought on both sides of the war.
“[I] was an American Marine who fought in South Vietnam and went there with bullets and bombs the first time, but this time I went with the Word of God, with the love of Jesus in my heart for those people,” said Lee, who joined the Marine Corps in 1969.
He recalled the March afternoon that changed his life. Leading his men on a mine sweep in the Quang Nam Province of Vietnam, Lee stepped on a land mine that could have easily blown a jeep apart. A Christian rushed to hold his head and prayed over him, and Lee also said a prayer that afternoon.
“That day, I looked up, and in my own simple way I prayed a prayer like this: ‘God, if you’ll let me live and get back home to mom and dad, I’ll do with my life what you want me to do.’ I had made a lot of promises to God before, but I had never meant it like I meant it that day,” he said.
Few people expected him to live, but Lee believes God spared his life so that he could spread the Word.
“I’m in the will of God, and that, my friend, makes all the difference in the world.”
View a schedule of events for Liberty University’s Military Appreciation Week.