Friday, November 11, 2022

Veterans Day Thoughts. . .

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 Veterans 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 my mother a member of its Auxiliary for 72 years.  I still hear the sound of taps and recall the flag draped over his coffin -- solemnly folded and given to us from a grateful nation.  I have the same poignant memory of my father-in-law's funeral and the line of other veterans who solemnly made their way down the aisle of the church to stand at his coffin and salute.  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!

1 comment:

Timothy Carter said...

Thank you, Pastor Peters. for these comforting words on Veterans Days.
Timothy Carter former "Navy Person" and former Deacon and, for a year, Vacancy Pastor.