Sometimes the results of our efforts come quickly. Other times it seems we have to wait. At times we may ask ourselves why the delay? Why is it that, at times, those that do bad seem to get away with it, and those that try their hardest to do good are still waiting around? Why hope for something when we don’t know when or if it’s ever coming?
The story of Sgt. Dan Crowley may not have the answer many are looking for, but it is a case study on this weeks principle – be hopeful.
Sgt. Crowley enlisted in the army at 18 years old and was stationed at Nichols Field in the Phiippines. This was shortly before the United States entered WWII, however the day after the U.S. declared war on Japan, the Axis Powers attacked Nichols Field.
Crowley, without any combat experience, defended Nichols with impromptu, antiquated weapons. After the air raid he crossed Manila Bay to the Bataan Peninsula under the cover of darkness where he joined other United States Soldiers to coninue the fight. It did not go well.
Crowley was captured by the Japanese and endured three and a half years of torture and mistreatment as a prisoner of war.
For those of us that have never experienced such a thing, how easy would it have been to give up — to allow our insecurities to get the best of us? How simple would it have been to see no hope in a place of darkness?
And what reasons did he have to press on? His own mortal salvation and even the Allied Victory were always in limbo. There were no answers, yet he pressed on and survived, confident that something would come to pass.
And it did — Crowley and others were released from imprisonment after the Japanese surrender in 1944.
But even after his intense trials, his bravery and heroism went unrecognized for 77 years.
Everything he had endured, all the suffering and doubts and questions… many of them would go unansered for decades. In January 2021 he was finally awarded the Prisoner of War Medal and an Army Combat Infantryman Badge.
That’s not all. Crowley was also made known of the fact that in October of 1945 he had actually been promoted to Sergeant. He was never notified back then, but in 2021, at the age of 99, he was finally recognized as the hero he was. This was only months before he would pass away.
Now, there is much to learn from Crowley’s story. His bravery and courage was not made real by the rewards he recieved. The principles of his character had always been present, quietly defining a unsung hero. It’s easy to be hopeful when you know good is cooming your way, it is a great deal harder when it seems like no one notices.
Like Crowley, we never know how our actions will effect the world, and how many promotions — symbolic or otherwise — have been already given to us that we don’t know about.
May Sgt. Crowley’s story be an inspiration to us. May we be hopeful even when no one is looking, and may we find the confidence inside that such hope brings.