I genuinely was honored this past week to read in global news reports how our troops in the Middle East recently have expressed their gratitude for my trips there in 2006 and 2007. Particularly humbling were the thoughts from a Fallujah police trainer, who called me "a role model" for the Iraqi security forces that were formerly an al-Qaida stronghold.
The truth, of course, is that they are the real heroes. They are the bona fide examples of courage. I spent my life as a warrior, first in the ring and then on-screen. They are warriors in countries torn by terror. I fight culture wars. They fight combat ones. True heroes are those such as Staff Sgt. Collin J. Bowen, 38, a Maryland Army National Guard soldier, who died just this past Friday in a Texas military hospital -- two months after his vehicle was hit in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb.
With this week commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war and roughly the 1,975th Holy Week of Christendom, I am overwhelmed with the convergence of two monumental sacrifices. On the one hand, there are about 4,000 service members (as well as roughly 300 coalition troops) who heroically gave up their lives for freedom. On the other hand, there is the one kingdom patriot who sacrificed his life upon a cross nearly two millennia ago for our sins. His words, which apply to both sacrificial acts of service, still resound: "Greater love has no one than this: that one lay down his life for a friend."
I concur with Congress' call this week for a partisan truce in order to observe the fifth year since the invasion. I also would extend that neutrality challenge to news agencies and pundits alike. Rather than prognosticate or pontificate about the rights and wrongs of war, I would encourage people instead simply to bow their heads in prayer.
In James P. Moore Jr.'s "One Nation Under God: The History of Prayer in America," he recounts how a World War II-wearied President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the nation more than 60 years ago. To many people's surprise, rather than giving a summary of the progress of Operation Overlord (better known as D-Day), he opted to pray that evening (June 6, 1944) with all America listening. Not since Lincoln had such a passionate spiritual been delivered at such a critical time.
This week, I present the same prayer to the one who liberates our souls on behalf of those who fight and have fought to liberate from political tyrannies -- from Afghanistan to America:
And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer: