Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Armistice Day. . . now Veteran's Day

Living in a city with such a huge presence of active duty, former military, and retired military has left me with renewed awe and appreciation for those who have defended our nation, fought to protect our liberty, and gone the world over in the cause of American interests.  The numbers of those dead and wounded over the years is too great a number for me to imagine.  On Sunday morning I see the faces of so many young and middle aged folks who may be there in civilian clothing but who are always "on duty."  We have had colonels and the lowest of the enlisted ranks, helicopter pilots and mechanics, paratroopers and chaplains, special forces and regular army.  They are tall and short, men and women, from cities and rural areas, but they share in common a remarkable sense of duty that makes me feel safe and secure.  More than this, it makes me feel a deep and abiding sense of gratitude toward those who have served and now serve.

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, Afghanistan, Iraq, and so many other hot spots and 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.

My father and father-in-law served in WWII and Korea and we have relatives who fought in WWI as well.  My wife has a longer history of those who stepped up for duty going all the way back to the American Revolution.  Hats off to you  --- those who served, who are now serving, and who died in service to your country. Those now serving 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.

1 comment:

Timothy Carter said...

Thank You, Pastor.
It was an honor to serve..after I hit #6 in the Draft Lottery of 1970...I served honorably and have the DD-214 to prove it.
I remember Dolly Parton was the first to thank me for my service... but not till 1990. Veterans were not looked up to in 1974.
The Navy at least taught me to discipline myself as a former hard-living wild-child of the 60's. I later returned to the LC-MS due the excellent Catechism I had been taught but fought for many years. Discipleship and discipline are hard learned. Thank God for the Holy Spirit and for faithful family and friends who never stopped praying for me.
Timothy Carter,
simple country Deacon-former Navy Person.