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obscure giants


I could hardly believe what I read last week in national headlines. It seems that the Marine Corp misidentified one of the soldiers in the famed Iwo Jima photograph. Looking at the above picture, the second from the last guy in line (rifle on his hip) is where the confusion now becomes clear. For seventy years they’ve had it wrong. Now we’re told that it wasn’t Navy Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class John Bradley in that renowned photo, but Marine Pvt. First Class Harold Schultz from Detroit.

No disrespect to the military for getting it wrong. The article I read mentioned that Bradley had been involved in another flag raising on the same day, at the same location, but there was no photograph of that particular flag raising. There is a good chance that Bradley never realized he wasn’t in the picture.

What is completely staggering is that Harold Schultz never came forward to set the record straight with the Corp. A Marine historian surmised, “Harold Schultz took his secret to the grave.” That is a stunning thought. Schultz died in 1995. Probably the most iconic WWII pictures ever taken, and one of the guys involved never forced his fame or rightful recognition. Wow! How does that happen?

How does a man do such a thing? How does he sit on that kind of data his entire life? Surely it would have profited him to disclose the details, but he didn’t. It’s really hard to get your mind around it.

It challenges me to wonder if we’re too seduced by the sirens of social media. The Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook culture tends to report everything. EVERYTHING. I mean… everything except the stuff we’re too embarrassed to let anyone else know about. Yeah, yeah, I realize that’s our norm now, but I can’t help but wonder if we’re internally tormented by the thought of being unseen, ignored, undiscovered, or an even more horrible possibility… forgotten? Could obscurity be the dirtiest word our current culture has ever encountered? It seems to be a terrorizing creeper that messes with us constantly.

(Yeah, I post as much crap as you do. Probably more. I might be nauseated now. Why is the room spinning?)

Why do we appear to be so anxious about living in the shadows? We’re supposed to be children of peace. We don’t seem to be at peace with what’s not sexy, trendy, exotic, or spectacular. Our mouth-wide-open selfies (OMG! Don’t get me started) more than argue that point. Are we over-stimulated and bored without another super-charged activity to prove to ourselves that we are alive? Or are we that starved for attention?

No, I do not think you are the problem. But I do think we might have an issue here. For real, we might have an issue.

If I’m to be truly transparent, I’d have to admit that I have a fist fight with every blog I write and potentially post. While my heart wants to help people transition out of their religious zombie walks, my head barks, “Who gives a shit about what you think about anything?” It’s always been that way for this old preacher man. Only now it’s not a 5:30 a.m. conversation on Sunday morning. Now it happens on Tuesday morning when I’m about to click the “send” button on my blog site. The internal conversation is savage, I kid you not. The shadows would be much more restful. Evidently every creative type suffers with the same fight.

IMG_1483 (1)I wonder if Pvt. Schwartz ever regretted holding something that powerful, yet so deeply hidden, in only his memory? What were the metrics that composed such a beautiful discretion for 48 years?

Maybe Brokaw was right. Maybe they were the greatest generation. Not because of what they accomplished, but because of how they handled their difficulties, their pain, and even their successes without a lot of drum beating. Granted, they didn’t have the same media opportunities, but I’m not too convinced it would have mattered anyway.

Are we really that far from a long time ago? Social media says, “Yes… definitely. We’re so much further along.” But, if we were going to remain honest, we’d probably have to admit that a lot gets done in this world without much notice or fanfare. Not everyone needs a big social hug or a cookie in order to be enticed to add value to life’s participants.

Every now and then, you bump up against a Pvt. Schwartz. An unknown, a hero, a quiet go-getter who is carrying the precious cargo of valor, sacredness, sacrifice, service and goodwill, buried deep down in their heart. You’d never know it, but he or she knows it, and that is just the way they want it. It could be a hospice aid, or a clerk at the courthouse. Maybe he or she is toting the mail or mowing your grass. Yes, puke-covered mommies totally qualify. They’re everywhere—just doing their thing—quietly.  Well, most of them.

Excuse me for throwing scripture at you, but it feels right to add this in closing:

“Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these nobodies to expose the hollow pretensions of the somebodies?” (1 Cor 1:27-28, MSG).

I don’t think this is about God playing favorites among His children. I think it has more to do with the virtues of humility and obscure dignity. I think those qualities are explosive components for real impact. These people mine where the real gold lays hidden. And when we discover and allow their stories to settle in our spirits, we, too, realize that their impact has made a profound difference in how we experience and see life.

Here’s to the obscure giants who walk among us, wherever you are!

(I’m changing my sign off line. This one is what I care about most!)

Live each day inside of the magnificent truth: GOD LOVES US ALL!

Mike xo


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Rose Egan
    June 28, 2016 at 8:43 pm


  2. Christi-an
    September 16, 2016 at 7:03 am

    Keep the blogs coming your words reach far more than you know!!!!! They are always encouraging and challenging me!!! Luv ya!!!

    • September 16, 2016 at 7:35 am

      Thanks babe. I really appreciate the kind words! xo

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