Anniversary of a Great Climb: Iwo Jima | Ours is a Different Mountain

A Mountain the Greatest Generation Once Climbed

I admit, it’s a great phrase: “The ‘Greatest Generation”. But the mountain from the which the phrase was earned was even greater. We’re talking about the kids born in America between 1910 and 1930. It’s hard not to be in awe of what they lived through, what they conquered and the high bar they raised.

What their Ascent to Greatness Looked Like

They are the children of the Great Depression and those of us who are younger just can’t get enough of them. There’s been books, movies, websites, tours, speaking engagements, poems, songs, pictures, awards, halls of  and statues. These kids whipped the Axis powers in the Second World War, stared down the spread of Communism and walked on the moon for crying out loud. They are different.

The Anniversary of the Great Climb Called Iwo Jima

Sixty-seven years ago this week, some kids of the ‘greatest generation’ climbed a big mountain in a faraway place. They moved carefully and their senses were on high alert. Every foot placement had to be perfect, every movement measured and instinctive. They didn’t expect to make it to the top alive, but the danger was not of a technical nature. They were on a combat mission on the front lines of the Pacific war of World War II. They were highly trained US Marines in a fearsome, unimaginable struggle to secure the small but strategic island called Iwo Jima. The mortal danger came from the dedicated and dug-in forces of an enemy army. The Marines made it to the top. They brought a flag. There was a photographer. America had its iconic picture of precious youth efforting to raise their country’s flag, symbolic of all their strength, courage, teamwork and determination.

He Said it, Not Me

Who is going to argue with that? What did I ever do when I was 19 that even compares to that sort of moment? I was too scared to even run the intramural hurdles in college. Went and hid in the stands for Pete’s sake. The last thing I ever want to do is take anything away from the ‘greatest generation’. Those men and women will have my respect until my dying day. But, I read a funny thing in a book one time. A book written by an old Marine. He was in the 1st Marine Division; he was part of the ‘Old Breed’. At age 18, he fought on Guadalcanal. He survived and came home. He has found some celebrity in his old age and he published his memoirs. His name is Sid Phillips; he can speak on behalf of the ‘greatest generation’. This is what he said. “We were undoubtedly a great generation, but I believe the greatest generation of Americans is yet to come and will be the generation that turns our nation back to God.[1]”

Greater Mountains Yet to Climb | Mountains that Only Faith Will Move

It’s funny because it’s counter to our culture. But, he is so right and he cuts through all the human-centeredness with which we all struggle. We get caught up in all these other secular measurements of greatness. I’m afraid that in about 40 years someone is going to want to write a book about the kids born between 1970 and 1990 and they might be stumped at what to title it. What are we doing? If you’re reading this, then I believe you are doing or on the verge of doing something tremendous. You are taking those careful, determined steps, which have to be taken even in the face of threats and dangers. You are part of an unbeatable movement of using the outdoors as a platform for evangelism and discipleship. You are not alone. We are part of a Great Commission. We serve a Great God that wants every nation to turn to him. That is our calling, that is our mission.

Take the Hill!

  1. Pray for courage in your faith right now. Don’t be discouraged by your youth.
  2. Contact someone who has led you in your walk with Christ and encourage them right now.
  3. Plan a trip somewhere outside and invite your friends. Determine to talk about Jesus with them (here’s an idea how) even if it scares you like nothing else.

Guest Blogger | Izzy Ismert

Izzy is the manager of Wilderness Ranch, a Young Life backpacking program in Creede CO.  He has climbed high peaks from Alaska down to South America.  A week at summer camp changed his life in 1990 and 2012 will be his 22nd summer of camping ministry.  He and his wife Lisa and their 2 kids spend the off-seasons in Buena Vista, CO.

[1] Phillips, Sid. You’ll be Sor-ree! A Guadalcanal Marine Remembers the Pacific War. Valor Studios Publishing. 2010.
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8 thoughts on “Anniversary of a Great Climb: Iwo Jima | Ours is a Different Mountain

  1. Izzy, I loved the encouragement for those of us who are “taking those careful, determined steps…[toward using the] outdoors as a platform for evangelism and discipleship”–both at Wilderness Ranch and elsewhere.

  2.  I remember right after I went on Young Life staff in January 1994, attending the new staff conference and a man named Bob Reeverts stood up to speak to us. The think I’ll never forget him saying to us was, “The best Young Life work is yet to be done, and you are the generation of staff that will get it done.” That was so encouraging to me as a newbie.

  3. Izzy, thanks for the great words of blessing to the Great Generation, and the strong words of encouragement to this next generation, that the “best” is yet to come!

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