Independence Day has been celebrated in the United States for more than 200 years.
As Americans, we highly prize freedom, not only for ourselves but for everyone, everywhere. We understand that the freedoms we enjoy were fought for and won by countless warriors who bravely battled not only for themselves but for all of us. It’s no wonder that the July 4th holiday has taken on a larger than life status in America.
When an American comes across a captive, any captive, we instinctively want to liberate them. That was true of Jason Galvin, a two-tour Afghanistan Army veteran who encountered a most unexpected captive while on a 4 of July weekend bait run last year. The captive wasn’t human; it was a young American Eagle, caught upside down on a rope high in a tree.
The narrow branch that held him was far too high to attempt an ordinary rescue. According to Galvin’s wife Jackie, local authorities were aware of the situation but had no idea how to free the bird. “They just couldn’t get up there high enough and they just unfortunately deemed this was going to be a loss,” she said.
Finally, local authorities authorized Galvin to do something a bit out of the ordinary because of his experience as a warrior. Using a Ruger 10-22 rifle, Galvin systematically cleared a path below the eagle before cutting the branch with a final shot. In all, he expended 150 rounds.
Lower branches on the white pine and extensive undergrowth beneath provided a soft landing for the symbolic bird. At last report, the eagle was rapidly recovering at the University of Minnesota Raptor Center.
“(It was the) Fourth of July, you know, that’s our bird. I can’t let it sit there.”
“It was very windy and I was just waiting for the right shot,” said Galvin. “It was a good weekend for it to happen,” Galvin said. “Fourth of July, you know, that’s our bird. I can’t let it sit there.” Although it might have been an inconvenience, Galvin never thought twice about his effort. “It was slow precise shots. When it was perfect, I’d take the shot and then I’d wait, take the other shot.”
Later, Phil Mohs of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said, “He told me he was a veteran in the service and he wouldn’t do it if he couldn’t do it safely,” Although unorthodox, they gave Galvin the go-ahead to start shooting, because they knew the eagle would die in the tree if left captive.
Mohs watched Galvin’s progress through a pair of binoculars. “I was like, wow, he’s an excellent shot.”
The Galvins have dubbed the bird “Freedom” and hope it will once again find its home in the area. “There was a lot of tears,” Galvin said. “When it finally came down, it was breathtaking. It was a beautiful moment.”
The truth is that many warriors today are held captive by the things they’ve seen and experienced in war. They are imprisoned by their own personal demons. Like “Freedom” the eagle, they feel trapped, too far out of reach from those around them to expect any rescue. Sometimes the pain is so severe and debilitating, they remain stuck in their captivity waiting to die.
Long, long ago, Israel’s King David faced a similar set of circumstances. He understood first-hand the price of war. At one point, his own family was held captive by his enemies. He fought valiantly for their freedom. Though the cost of battle was high, he fought on. Later, David wrote:
We have escaped like a bird
from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
and we have escaped!
Who did he credit as his liberator? God! Verse eight says: “Our hope is in the name of the Lord.” Though David fought the battle, his strength came from God.
It’s obvious what might have happened if Jason Galvin hadn’t seen the eagle caught in that tree. Left alone, the bird would have died in captivity. The difference was that as a warrior, Galvin wasn’t content to let that happen.
Warriors are like that. Seeing someone held captive gets under their skin. There is an immediate desire to step in and change reality!
Many warriors find themselves held captive by the past. It’s possible that you feel held prisoner by the things that happened to you and those around you while deployed. You can’t seem to escape the memories and wounds left by war.
“Every captive can find true freedom…”
Rescues take time. Liberation doesn’t come cheaply. But, your freedom is something that other warriors are committed to ensuring. Why? Because through Christ every captive can find true freedom. Just know that there are fellow warriors willing to come along side you, who will stick with you until you discover freedom once again. They can point you in God’s direction so like David, you can find new strength and ultimate victory.
It begins with a conversation between you and God. You can pray the prayer below, or click one of the response buttons if you’d like to be contacted by a fellow warrior willing to do anything it takes to help you escape from what holds you captive.
Jesus, it’s true. I feel like a prisoner held captive by my past. I need help. Please be my liberator. Please free me from what holds me back. I acknowledge that I can’t do this alone. Help me reach out to other warriors who’ve stood where I stand. Help me to move forward again. I choose to follow You and Your command in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!