Today here in the US we are celebrating Veterans’ Day, a holiday that differs from Memorial Day (which honors those who died in military service) and from the 4th of July (which celebrates the nation’s birth).
I’m not a military person. And believe it or not—this is rare these days—I was raised as a pacifist. I had an uncle, for example who did not go into the service during World War II but chose to do an alternative service.
But as I’ve studied Scripture, I’ve concluded that pacifism applied to military service isn’t really something God teaches. I’m sure others disagree. Nevertheless, I’m at a point in my life that I realize how great the sacrifices are which our military personnel make. And their spouses and children, parents and extended family. So whether someone believes in the importance of a strong military or not, I think it’s right to honor our veterans—those who have given their time and ability to the service of their nation.
These veterans need more than just a “thanks for your service.” It’s an easy line to give to a veteran, but it’s pretty shallow, although I don’t have a better one.
What is better is friendship. I don’t know much about reaching out to a veteran who has lived with trauma, and is finally coming home, but it seems those who adjust the best have someone they trust and cam talk to. Someone who will be sure they don’t spend their birthday alone, that sort of thing. But more importantly, someone who will love them enough to listen, who will pray with them, who will open up the Bible and help them to gain God’s perspective. Because any veterans who have been in combat, and even those who haven’t, have seen an ugly side of life.
They need God’s perspective on what they’ve lived through.
The bottom line is this: where would the rest of us be without those veterans who have served in the armed forces?
So for Veterans Day, I want to thank God for giving us brave people willing to sacrifice for all the rest of us, willing to defend our nation, our belief in democracy and free speech and freedom of religion. These are values that have shaped our country and spread to other places in the world. But they are not universal, and they do need to be defended.
That our service personnel are willing to put their lives on the line, to step up and do the work to defend what we all enjoy, means more than I can ever express. We are blessed to have brave Marines and infantry, seamen and airmen, the Coast Guard and all those special ops individuals. It really is amazing to think that so many people are willing to set aside a desire for fame or wealth or comfort or ease to step up and stand in the gap for the rest of us.
I am so very grateful for the veterans who have served our country.
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