Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Will there be an Armistice Day?

It used to be called Armistice Day -- the days when pens prevailed over guns and soldiers ended the fighting to begin rebuilding what had been torn down.  Though there are certainly winners and losers in wars, the sides come together in the aftermath of destruction to tend to the wounded, to remember the dead, to rebuild the neighborhoods and communities, to rebuild factories and economies, and to get back to what is the norm of human life and work.  Inevitably there is a baby boom following the signal of peace and the return home of the soldiers.  This is not merely due to the fact that those who were once gone have come home again but to the hope that it inevitable when the great sigh of victory and defeat give way to the promise of work, home, family, and future.

Sadly, we seem to live in an era when there is no armistice -- no signature of dignitaries to end the sound of violence and ease the threat against citizen and land.  Ours is an age of constant war and constant violence that seems to tear at the very fabric of our being.  We can hardly bear to listen to the news or read of the destruction that happens day in and day out somewhere near or far.  We long for the peace that was once the hallmark of this Veteran's Day.  I hope it will come but I fear it will not be soon.  The weapons of our self-destruction have become hidden and the soldiers look like our neighbors and the battlefield moves from town to town and nation to nation.  I long for the kind of day this once was -- a day to end the war to end all wars and the dawn of a new era of peace.  In place of that the peace of God which surpasses understanding is the strength of those who look in vain for some sign that war and violence and oppression will pause.  Perhaps it is the mark of the times, the reflection of our self-destructive natures that the wounds do not heal and the pain does not ease.  If anything, we are driven even more fully into the arms of Him who gives peace not as the world gives.

I wrote these words a couple of years ago. . . now made even more significant to me in that my Dad is dead and the greatest generation is shrinking even more with each passing year:

My parents were at the end of that greatest generation who were called to sacrifice at home and to fight on beaches of death and rivers of blood across Europe and the Pacific.  I am forever indebted to their example of faithfulness, their giving spirit, and their sense of personal responsibility.  On this Veterans' Day I cannot but also honor those who follow them in service to country and in defense of liberty.  We can all debate the policies of those who sent them here and there but none of us can doubt or diminish the noble character of those who have heard the call and served faithfully.  All gave some... time from their lives, memories both to treasure and haunt them, images that they wished they had never seen but cannot be erased from their minds and hearts.  From the World Wars to the small locales of Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Afghanistan, I honor them for their sacrificial service for me and all who call themselves Americans.  But some gave all.  From the celebrated Flanders fields and row upon row of white stones to the anonymous trenches in which the lost remains of soldiers lay still to the cemeteries dotted with flags across America and the veterans who are wheeled there, limp in pain, and walk the slow deliberate steps of age and wounds, we honor those who served us with their lives.

My father was a member of the American Legion for 70 and this is the first Veteran's Day since I stood with my family at the cemetery and heard the sound of taps and watched as the flag over his coffin was solemnly folded and given to us from a grateful nation.  This is not a day off of school but a day to teach our children the ancient rites of citizenship, memory, and patriotism.  Thank you, Dad, and all who served through wars just and causes questionable, displaying unwavering character and duty, these patriots...  Thank you, men and women who proudly still wear the uniform of our nation -- far from home and family...  Thank you for your service.  All gave some... some gave all... It seems so little but let me not forget to say, Thank you!
My parents were at the end of that greatest generation who were called to sacrifice at home and to fight on beaches of death and rivers of blood across Europe and the Pacific.  I am forever indebted to their example of faithfulness, their giving spirit, and their sense of personal responsibility.  On this Veterans' Day I cannot but also honor those who follow them in service to country and in defense of liberty.  We can all debate the policies of those who sent them here and there but none of us can doubt or diminish the noble character of those who have heard the call and served faithfully.  All gave some... time from their lives, memories both to treasure and haunt them, images that they wished they had never seen but cannot be erased from their minds and hearts.  From the World Wars to the small locales of Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Afghanistan, I honor them for their sacrificial service for me and all who call themselves Americans.  But some gave all.  From the celebrated Flanders fields and row upon row of white stones to the anonymous trenches in which the lost remains of soldiers lay still to the cemeteries dotted with flags across America and the veterans who are wheeled there, limp in pain, and walk the slow deliberate steps of age and wounds, we honor those who served us with their lives.

My father has been a member of the American Legion for more than 68 years and today he will stand at the park near the auditorium in town to be part of the ancient rite of citizenship, memory, and patriotism on Veterans' Day.  Thank you, Dad, and all who served through wars just and causes questionable, displaying unwavering character and duty, these patriots...  Thank you, men and women who proudly still wear the uniform of our nation -- far from home and family...  Thank you for your service.  All gave some... some gave all... It seems so little but let me not forget to say, Thank you! - See more at: http://pastoralmeanderings.blogspot.com/search?q=veterans#sthash.I6D7VLGH.dpuf

4 comments:

Kirk Skeptic said...

There is, was,and never will be a "greatest generation;" those who fought WWII became the "greedy geezers" who gave us the the Nanny State which has turned against Christ and his Church just like the raging heathen in Psalm 2. Our fathers' service notwithstanding, that generation wcertainly will have some "splainin' to do."

John J. Flanagan said...

I think we must all read history. Wars of conquest, for resources, power, ideology. Bloody wars. One generation fights another, then the next generations enjoy periods of peace, followed by further warfare somewhere. Psychotics become leaders through manipulation and use nationalism to initiate totalitarian rule and oppression. Legions of people follow and do the dirty work of ruthless leadership. Governments lie and the media often makes war more probable. I went to war as a Marine in the suxties. It was horrific and bloody. Men were killed, mutilated, and most had a degree of PTSD. Dealing with it for me was a matter of burying the past and keeping my faith in God, because mankind is forever fighting. Evil must be defeated. Whether we want war or not, we are forced to protect our land from enemies. I get the necessity of war, but having seen it close up and personal, I find no glory in it.

Ted Badje said...

Despite cynicism and the turmoil of life, we should take a moment and say thanks for our veterans.

ErnestO said...

The face of war has changed drastically, and we find ourselves not recognizing the enemy which is ourselves. We can expect no day of armistice as long we continue pregnancy terminations. I have often asked myself are we doing very much the same thing as the Germans who let the horror of the Holocaust happen.
I believe all human life is Holy.
Today my 89 year old father and I - will as veterans celebrate Armistices Day by giving thanks to all who have served.