“A Sense of Duty, Honor”
A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside. “Your son is here,” she said to the old man. She had to repeat several times before the patient’s eyes opened. Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young man in the Marine Corps uniform standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man’s limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement. The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit alongside the bed. Nights are long in hospitalsbut all through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man’s hand and offering him words of love and strength. Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile. He refused.
Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and the night noises of the hospitalthe clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients. Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night. Along towards dawn, the old man died. The Marine let go of the lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited.
Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her. “Who was that man?” he asked.
The nurse was startled, “He was your father,” she answered.
“No he wasn’t. I’ve never seen him before in my life,” the Marine answered.
“Then why didn’t you say something when I took you to him?”
“I knew right away there had been a mistake; but I also knew he needed his son, and his son wasn’t here. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, I knew how much he needed me, so I stayed.”
He did not ask what the old man was going to do for him if he stayed. He saw in front of him a fellow human being who was sad and lonely. He gave to him a full measure of concern, encouragement and comfort.
“IN AS MUCH AS YE HAVE DONE IT UNTO ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE … YE HAVE DONE IT UNTO ME.” Jesus Christ