Many Lamanites repented and converted to the gospel through the teachings of the sons of Mosiah. They felt such grief and sorrow for their past sins, and such joy in their newfound forgiveness, that they made a covenant that they would no longer fight against their brethren, the Lamanites. They called themselves the "Anti-Nephi Lehies." (Don't ask.)
And when they said they wouldn't fight, they meant it. They buried their weapons of war, and never used them again. There were times when the Lamanites attacked and began to slaughter the defenseless and passive people - but they would not fight back. This struck the hearts of the Lamanites, and many stopped fighting and joined with the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. This effectively doubled their ranks, and made the other Lamanites doubly mad.
After the Lamanites backed off, the apostate Amalekites started stirring up trouble. As the danger became more apparent for the Anti-Nephi-Lehis, Ammon asked the Lord as to how to protect them. The Lord told Ammon to go to Zarahemla, where he consulted with the King and the people. Everyone was in agreement that the now-called "People of Ammon" should come take possession of the nearby land of Jershon. They would provide the Nephites with some sustenance, and that the Nephites would protect them from their enemies.
They definitely needed the protection. The Nephites stationed guards around the land of Jershon, and soon enough, the army of the Lamanites showed up to do battle. There was a tremendous slaughter on both sides - Lamanites and Nephites. Eventually the Nephites prevailed, and the Lamanites turned tail and went home.
End of summary.
As we were reading this story, I was thinking about what it must have felt like to be part of the Nephite army, or a family member. I know that the Nephites were righteous, and they had agreed to protect the People of Ammon, but you KNOW there had to be some serious whining in some quarters.
I can't believe you have to go fight the Lamanites again - you just got home!
Why cant the Anti-Nephi-Lehies do their own fighting?
We are just protecting them because they give us food.
What are they going to do? Stand around and watch you die?
It's not fair that you have to fight their battle. It one thing to guard the borders, it's another to go to war.
Besides, God never even asked them to make that covenant - it was their idea! God has always said it's OK to defend our families.
How many of our people have to die to protect them? - and they aren't even Nephites!
So these are the thoughts that I was thinking on behalf of the Nephites as we read the scriptures. Thankfully, most of the Nephites weren't thinking this way at the time. They were wiling to fight and to die to preserve the lives of the People of Ammon.
It is admirable to defend your home, your wife, your children, your country, but it is kind of expected, right? There is self-interest at stake. I'm not going to stand around while someone destroys the things I hold dear. (Red Dawn, anyone?) But there is something even more noble in defending those that cannot defend themselves: The weak, the afflicted, the minority, those that are "different". I find the willingness of the Nephites to fight for the People of Ammon both remarkable, and noble.
Now the connection: I was working in the yard yesterday, and thinking about why I was spending my Memorial Day weekend working, instead of playing. It got me to thinking about the purpose of Memorial Day - a day originally created to pay tribute to the people who died while serving in the Armed Forces.
What does this have to do with the People of Ammon? Most of the lives lost by Americans in war have been lost in the service of someone else. You have to go back to the 1898 to find a war that was fought on US turf, defending US homes and families. Since then, the US intervened in WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, as well as other actions.
I was a teenager when Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese. I remember the protests during that war. I remember people protesting as the soldiers returned home. Protesters will protest.
It's not our fight! Our sons and father's shouldn't have to die to protect them.
Hitler is not our problem.
The British can take care of themselves, and the French are snooty.
Saddam is not our problem.
Why should we die to protect the French, the Britiish, the Kuwaits, the Poles, the Afghans, the Iraqis, the Vietnamese, the Koreans, the Sudanese - they aren't even American.
Why? Because there is nobility in protecting the weak and the oppressed. There is nobility in those willing to put their lives on the line to serve others. Self-preservation and isolationism isn't noble. It's pragmatic.
Tomorrow is Memorial Day. I am proud to honor the lives of those who died protecting our Nation and our way of life. I am even more proud to honor those who died protecting those who could not protect themselves.