Larkin Spivey Finding Faith In War

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Survivor Guilt

I often think of fellow Marines who didn’t come home from Vietnam. Some were close friends. All were idealistic young men trying to do their duty under difficult conditions. One veteran eloquently verbalized the questions that many of us have as survivors:

Not unlike a lot of other Vietnam veterans in general . . .  do I have Survivor’s Guilt. For me it’s intense . . . Why did I survive? Have I lived an honorable life? Have I minimized my mistakes and corrected those which I could? Have I made the most of the opportunities I’ve been given that others never had: Have I done right by the memories of my fallen comrades? Would they be proud of what I’ve accomplished with the time they never had?  They’re unanswerable questions. We live with them. We don’t whine or complain; well most of us don’t at least, after all, with but a few exceptions, we’re Marines! We just go about life and do the best we can.

I have asked these questions and have also concluded that there are no definitive answers. We owe a debt we can’t repay to our fallen comrades. We do the best we can, realizing there will always be some element of guilt over the apparent randomness of events that spared us and took them.

 Fortunately, there is a way to resolve this guilt and every other form of anxiety that plagues our hearts. Freedom from past wrongs, real and imagined, has already been won for us by our Savior, Jesus Christ. When we take our guilt and worries to him and ask for forgiveness, he gives us a clean slate. We can be thankful not only for our physical survival on the battlefields of life, but also for a chance to start life anew every day with a clear conscience. We pray that our fallen comrades rest in peace and that somehow each has an opportunity to know and accept what has been accomplished for them and for all of us by our Lord and Savior.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. ~1 John 1:8
            Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. And where these have been
             forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. ~Hebrews 10:17-18

(This story is from Stories of Faith and Courage from the Vietnam War. It is reprinted in honor of Memorial Day 2016