It’s Veteran’s Day again, yet I seem to feel the ceremoniousness of this particular day a little more deeply than I possibly have in years past. Maybe it is because my little brother is in Iraq and in harm’s way; I worry about him and miss him at the same time. I could say with an honest and forthright sincerity that a part of me is with him over there, because he is my brother, but that may not be understandable to someone who does not know us. We are so much alike and so different at the same time, still the bond between us transcends the miles we’ve spent apart throughout his career.
I have others in the military, young men and women who served and are serving still. Mere children to me when I reflect back on the time they spent in my Sunday School classes many years ago. They have grown and matured; obviously nowhere close in semblance to the same innocuous teenagers they were when I first met them. I worry about them as well, and I miss them in a way only a teacher can ever fully comprehend.
They are out there now, at this very moment, on the front lines serving our country and protecting a lifestyle back home in America which far too often remains taken for granted by their jaded beneficiaries. I’m as guilty as any other - living my life from day to day with little retention of how much I am blessed to be Living in the USA. They serve despite being told by our leaders that we are not exceptional as a country or a people. They serve despite being assured by those same leaders that we are arrogant, bigoted to other cultures, and no longer a Christian nation. They serve despite media pundits propagating the myth that their service is not a viable solution to the world’s problems, and instead has become the root cause of many of those problems.
Still they serve.
From the rugged deserts of Iraq to the bleak slopes of Afghanistan. In the steaming jungles of exotic locales like Guam and the Philippines. Aboard our ships in the rough waters in the North Atlantic, and under our flag in frigid wastelands above the Arctic circle. In countries like Germany and South Korea, Kuwait and Diego Garcia. Thousands of others serve with no less importance on bases in the continental U.S. as well as Alaska and Hawaii.
Usually far from home and the families they love, they perform a job that requires sacrifices unknown and perils we will never fully understand. It’s not the money or the fame, because there is very little of either to be found in their job description. It is far more than that. Watch a grizzled Vietnam veteran at a ball game when the National Anthem is played. Observe an ancient World War II veteran at a museum or monument, his eyes brimming with tears as he remembers places like Normandy or Guadalcanal. Those hardships unknown to us are encountered and withstood because of a love for their country and a reverence for the flag they represent. Our world could use a few more like them, reminding us of what we should stand for not only as a culture, but as a nation.
This year, On Veteran’s Day, it behooves us to give them their due. Be proud of our veterans, thank them publicly when you encounter one, and support groups like the USO and American Legion if and when you have the opportunity to do so. When I served, I have fond memories of people who did just that, even if all they had to offer at the time was a kind word or two.
To all our veterans, whether you serve in a far away land or at a supply depot in Charleston, thank you for your service. Thank you for keeping America safe.
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.