On this day, first called Armistice Day, now Veteran's Day (Remembrance Day in Canada and UK), we take a moment to remember and give thanks to those whose daily duty is to protect our freedom and defend our liberty against any and all enemies. For nearly 17 years now I have been Pastor of a congregation in the city that forms the southern and eastern boundary of Fort Campbell (KY), one of the largest military posts in the US. This is the closest I have ever been to what is a very large community of active duty, retired, and former military folks and it has been an eye opener.
Many of them are very young and underpaid by every reasonable standard. They have served and continue to serve here and throughout the world, many of them in the fourth or fifth deployment to the Middle East and Afghanistan. Many of them are young officers and enlisted men and women who have re-enlisted even in the face of very difficult and dangerous duty that has kept them far from home, far from family, and far from normal life (in peacetime, anyway). Some of them are senior offices and enlisted folks who have seen duty going back to the Balkans, Africa, Kuwait, and many other hot spots prior to the current fields of battle.
What amazes me are the single young men and women who show up in a Lutheran church every Sunday morning (when you know they could be sleeping in). I am mightily amazed at these fine young men and women who are a regular part of our congregation. What amazes me are the families who somehow pull it all together when mom or dad is in the field, at a school, or deployed. They make a great sacrifice and one often unheralded by the nation. What amazes me is the grace that these military men and women show, respectful, honorable, and dedicated -- younger, young, and older... they are an amazing representation of our country and for our country. What amazes me are the wounded warriors within this group -- those with battlefield injuries and those injured in training -- almost to a person their interest is in healing up as fast as they can so that they can return to their units and to their jobs.
Today their honored place in the limelight is tarnished by the cowardly act of one soldier at Fort Hood. It is sad that on this day when we recall the present day members of our armed forces and those who served so faithfully in the past, that they would have to share the public eye with one who stood in their midst, wore their uniform, and defamed every principle and cause for which men and women wear those uniforms. I won't say any more lest his betrayal take more of this day away from those who deserve our prayers, our encouragement and support every day.
Hats off to you. You are in my daily prayers, in the prayers at the Altar each Sunday, and in the hearts of those within our congregation. God bless you and God bless the good work you do on our behalf. May your bravery, service, and sacrifice be remembered always, not just on one day in the year.