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.
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.