On April 19, 1951, General Douglas MacArthur made a high-profile “farewell address” to a joint meeting of both houses of Congress.
One of America’s most renowned Generals during World War II, MacArthur summed up his military service with a lyric from an old British Army Barrack Ballad. Which most proudly proclaimed, “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”
Eddie Thomas, served his country in both the United States Army and Airforce; he was what we in the military call a “soldier’s soldier.” While this old solider has faded away, he leaves a legacy as a man of fidelity, a family man, and a man of faith.
As a man of fidelity, Brother Thomas was a loving husband to his wife, Geraldine. They shared more than a four-decade bond of unquestionable togetherness and support.
One the last surviving husband’s in the enclave of Clinton, Georgia where I grew up. Brother Thomas kept fidelity with his community; he was always ready to pitch in with the work of house and home.
A demonstration of his fidelity was the simple fact that Brother Thomas was devoted to keeping his community looking military sharp! He always did his duty out there cutting the grass, regardless of the heat, or his physical condition.
As a family man, Brother Thomas cherished his role as father, grandfather, and great grandfather. His unvarnished advice – much of it based on his military experience – often cut to the heart of any matter presented to him. He was uncompromising, always telling the truth, and always available for family.
As a man of faith, Brother Thomas put on the whole armor of God. As a solider in God’s Army, Brother Thomas was ready for battle. He had on the belt of truth, the shoes of peace, and the breastplate of righteousness, as he carried the sword of the Spirit, studying the word of God in Sunday School, Bible Study, and church.
Brother Thomas knew that as a solider in God’s Army, he was not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies. Rather, his fight on behalf of the Lord was against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in heavenly places.
Because of the excellent solider that Brother Thomas was, he put on all of God’s armor so that he could stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
So now, on this week, we pause to celebrate the birthday of this nation. This is the nation which Brother Thomas pledged to protect; the flag which adorns his casket is a symbol of his commitment to that pledge. However, the question as we consider the life of this solider is this, what kind of solider are we?
In Revelation 3:15-16, Jesus says,
“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!”
God want us to be hot soldiers like Brother Thomas.
Hot because he loved his wife and cared for his family.
Hot because he loved his community and cared for them, so much so that he was always willing to speak the truth, regardless of how unpopular it was.
Hot because he loved his Lord, and cared for the people of God, so much so, that he gladly put on the whole armor of God.
“Old soldiers never die, they just fade away…” Eddie Thomas this old solider who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty, has now faded away to be with his Lord.
Well done soldier, well done!