Tomorrow, many of us in America will celebrate the lives of brave men, women, and their families who bear the burdens of home in Veteran’s Day festivities throughout the land.
These celebrations take many forms from innumerable parades and 21 gun salutes to prayer services for the vets and their families, many of which took place today in churches all over America. Some will be brief, silent prayers at final resting places spoken by the widows, widowers, and children of the courageous who came home differently than when they left to defend us.
This short blog post will be mine.
I have friends who have served nobly, and with distinction for more than 30 years. I myself served, with no particular distinction in the early to mid-1980’s, right after college. Even though I made no effort at making it a career, I served because I came from a family who served.
In the Sandmeyer house back then it was important to recognize that armed service was voluntary and a mark of pride for us. I was lucky enough to marry into a house where my own father-in-law was a Navy man like me. My father and I were U. S. Navy officers and both of my uncles were petty officers.
My wife and I have a son who may serve one day. He really loves the U. S. Coast Guard but with the cuts in military recruitment these days that may have to wait a while.
We have friends who have made multiple trips to Iraq and Afghanistan in the last 9 years. Their hard work, dedication to a cause, and faith in a loving God who brings them home every time renews our faith at home, too. One of them has a 4 year old daughter who is cute as button.
It seems to me that courage is far more difficult to define when you’re talking about a service member with a spouse and small children at home. It gets worse when they have been away a long time or made repeated trips back to battle after having been home. G.K. Chesterton may have said it best:
Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.
I’m always grateful to veterans for their service. In a volunteer environment like we have, they represent the best attributes of our citizenry in the United States. They fight for an ideal conceived by our founding fathers almost 240 years ago. That ideal has been repeated in many forms since then but was best enunciated by Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address when he said “that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth”.
Whether such a government does or not, the highest ideal was expressed by Jesus Christ Himself and is often lived out in our armed forces every day. This shall end my homage to the best of the best among us:
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. John 15:12-14