On our drive home from church services tonight my bride (of 31 years) and I had a brief, but admittedly uneducated conversation.
Lynn asked me why Veterans Day was not pushed into a weekend like so many other national holidays or observances?
Ashamedly, I didn’t have the answer (I had allowed myself to forget). As we pondered the question I could only respond by saying that there must have been a very important event on November 11th for the official observance to still remain on its specified date in this contemporary carefree culture. She agreed but I was troubled that I could not remember why.
Around 10pm I received the daily “American Minute” email for the next morning (today) which reminded me, and exposed my shame.
Allow me to plagiarize my friend Bill Federer’s commentary that motivated me to write this message to you tonight:
American Minute with Bill Federer
The 11th hour of the 11th DAY OF THE 11th MONTH of 1918, World War I ended.
Though the Armistice was signed at 5:00 AM, fighting continued till 11:00 AM, killing nearly 11,000 more men.
In 1921, President Warren Harding had the remains of an unknown soldier killed in France buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery.
Inscribed on the Tomb are the words:
“Here lies in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.”
Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor all U.S. Veterans.
In 1958, President Eisenhower placed soldiers in the tomb from WWII and the Korean War.
The soldier from Vietnam, buried by President Reagan in 1984, was identified by DNA tests as pilot Michael Blassie and was reburied in 1998 at Jefferson Memorial Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri.
On NOVEMBER 11, 1921, President Harding stated:
“On the threshold of eternity, many a soldier, I can well believe, wondered how his ebbing blood would color the stream of human life, flowing on after his sacrifice…
I can sense the prayers of our people…Let me join in that prayer.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come…”
So now you understand why I am ashamed that I didn’t have an immediate and proper answer for my wife.
You should also know why I read the “American Minute” every day possible and save every one of them in a special folder.
If our sons were still young children at home I would post these daily encouragements and inspirational messages as required reading.
NOW FOR MY SECOND REASON FOR THIS VETERANS DAY FOCUS
Our home church strives to honor our veterans in various and/or creative ways each year so as to avoid the risk of bland traditionalism.
Last Sunday morning our worship leader invited all our veterans to come stand at the front of the church to be recognized (not uncommon).
But then, instead of playing a new special musical or leading us in a congregational hymn and not even using a polished video tribute, the remaining several hundred folks were invited to come and thank each veteran personally in a receiving line that took considerable time to do.
I for one found it difficult to simply shake the hands of these heroes and express my gratitude, especially those who haven’t many more years left to thank – so among the 30 or so expressions of thanks I could not help but embrace many.
If you are reading this email, and are serving our country in any of our services, or are a veteran, you have my deepest respect and gratitude!
I Thank You!
If you are not in, or have not served in any branch of our nation’s military, and your church, school, civic organization, or whatever, does not have a planned recognition of our veterans – do something about it! It does not have to be overly polished, poetic, or performed with precision, just don’t allow it to be pathetic noninvolvement or silence. Insist on doing something.
Don’t allow this day to go by without embracing some veteran who made it possible for you to sit in peace and read this focus.
Remember: the “Peace is Patriotic” bumper stickers are almost as cheap as the phony groups that peddle them. Peace is not the “essence” of Patriotism – it is the “fruit” of Patriotism! The essence of Patriotism is “Commitment and Sacrifice”! It is ONLY because of the commitment and sacrifice of our veterans than you and I have the peace to sit at these computers and pass emails back and forth. Also note that the primary motive for the true patriotism that has led this land for so many years of commitment and sacrifice is found in our Christian heritage!
Therefore, after deliberately taking the time to honor our veterans, commit yourself to not fail them nor soil their gift that was paid for at such a dear price by committing, or recommitting, yourself to the reasonable service we all owe to our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Christian citizenship is a responsibility, not just a simple right. Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever your calling, commit yourself to the Lord and live a sacrificial life that demonstrates that commitment!
Thanks for reading my Veterans Day Focus – now go find a Veteran!