The United States military is a demanding employer that places stringent requirements on its personnel. The nature of combat requires soldiers to be the perfect specimen of health, in top condition both physically and mentally.
Or, you could be blind. Whatever.
At the outbreak of World War II, a young ophthalmologist named Dr. Albert Meisenbach graciously volunteered his medical services as a fight surgeon. In that role, he carefully made sure that the men flying reconnaissance missions over enemy territory had the best vision possible.
But just prior to their deployment from Texas to the Pacific theater, Dr. Meisenbach met a GI in a hospital corridor he’d never forget. The young soldier was struggling a bit, grasping at the hand rail running down the length of the hallway. Meisenbach approached the young man and asked if he needed any help.
The young soldier was deflated. Shoulders slumping, he confessed that he was blind.
The good doctor was flabbergasted! A blind soldier? Incredulous, Dr. Meisenbach took the soldier to his office and tested his eyesight. Sure enough, the young man failed each and every test. But this young man’s blindness wasn’t a new occurrence; he was a proficient reader of Braille.
Meisenbach had just one question: How did the young man dupe his way into uniform?
Quite easily, as it turned out. The blind soldier told Dr. Meisenbach that he had simply memorized every eye chart the military used. All he had to do was “trick” the examining physician into giving away the very first letter at the top of the chart. From there, he would just rely on his memory to pass the test.
That raised another question for Meisenbach. Why would this kid put himself at the risk of battle knowing he had such a limitation?
The answer was as simple as it was inspiring: “I knew that many men would be blinded as a result of the conflict, and because of my knowledge of Braille, I knew I could help.”
There are a lot of Christians who could learn a lesson from this courageous young man.
When we are tempted to say, “I’m too old for that ministry,” or “I don’t have any experience with those kinds of people,” or “But I’ve never even been to Africa,” we need to remember Christ’s courage and sacrifice for us, and be challenged by the kid who knew he was blind…and signed up anyway.
No more excuses.
Best Little Stories from World War II by C. Brian Kelly. Cumberland House, 1998, Pages 135-136.
Topics Illustrated Include:
World War II
(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)