Join us on Sunday, November 13th, as we pray and celebrate our veterans! We will have a special video, a moment of silence, and words of recognition, and as is now a tradition in our church. We will close the special celebration with the pledge of allegiance to the US flag before or after each worship service, just like many of our veterans have done for many years, to acknowledge that their efforts are still appreciated by many.
I didn't know much about Veterans Day until I began studying for my US Citizenship test a few years back. I learned that Veterans Day was initially called Armistice Day, which originated one year after the end of WWI and that November 11th wasn't called Veteran's Day until 1954 to include all men and women who had served our country. It was not until then that I began to comprehend and value our immense freedom and how little we know. I mean, this might be silly, but did you know that Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe but does include an "s" at the end of "veterans" because it is not a day that "belongs" to veterans; it is a day for honoring all veterans.
Also, did you know many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day? Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military - in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is primarily intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served - not only those who died - have sacrificed and done their duty. And then there is Armed Forces Day, which honors those currently serving in the US military.
When I read about the beginnings of Veterans Day, I was impressed by the observations that Veterans Day should honor veterans by promoting peace, justice, goodwill, and international understanding and avoid glorifying war, death, or violence. I learned a long time ago that if we want to honor veterans day truly, we should celebrate life, all life.
Let us pay attention to what the Apostle Paul argues in his letter to the Romans, which states that followers of Christ should treat others with respect and uphold God's law by showing neighborly love. So, as a Church, we are capable of more than simply thanking people for their service or singing patriotic hymns on national holidays. We honor our veterans when we invite them to share their experiences and allow our perspectives to be broadened by the gift of their sharing. Our veterans' experiences are varied, so for some, a thank you is meaningful, while for others, it may trigger feelings of pain. We cannot know without taking the time to create a safe space for a listening conversation.
Furthermore, we honor our veterans when we stop taking for granted the freedoms and other benefits afforded to us by our veterans' sacrifices. In the same way, and since we all benefit from veterans' service, it is appropriate that we also share in holding and accounting for many veterans' burdens.
Many of the veterans I have the joy of encountering are feeling deep grief over divisions and perceived loss of unity values for which they had sacrificed so much. So if we value our veterans' efforts, we should promote justice, unity, and cooperation, knowing fully well that we are unstoppable when we are united by something and someone more significant than ourselves.
Church, we honor our veterans by regarding them as assets and part of the foundation in pursuing of a cease of conflict and justice for all. We honor our veterans by taking our civic duties, such as informed voting, seriously and by becoming educated in some of the unique challenges our veterans face, including but not limited to family, socio-economical discrepancies, and physical or mental health.
"Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God." Philippians 1:3