Times sure have changed. Time was when someone went into “the service.” Now, they are “in the military.” From my way of seeing things we need to rekindle some of those old values. Veterans Day is a good time to start.
Dad was nine years old on the first Armistice Day. He never tired of telling the story of pride, patriotism and jubilation that accompanied the end of World War I. What the farms of Cedar County Nebraska lacked in population and national prominence yields not an inch to the celebrations caught on news reels and now iconic photos.
So, what’s changed? Much, indeed. Too much to chronicle here or to bemoan on what is a national holiday. Rather, we would do better to focus on what we can restore, what in our national character we can rekindle, how might we restore honor to our tarnished national self-esteem. That would be a realistic response to a genuine need.
Here’s a few thoughts:
- Rekindle a sense of service to our nation. Nothing grandiose today! What if we were to start simple and keep it local? What can we do today, this week, this month to strengthen the social fabric of our neighborhoods, communities, civic organizations? Do something, do it more than once so it becomes a habit.
- Say thanks to someone serving in the military. Set aside the politics for a moment. Deal with how and when we should use military force in foreign affairs vigorously but on a case by case basis. Don’t take it out on individual service personnel. Today I resolve to call my 83 y/o brother to say thanks for his 30-year military career and to write a letter to my grand-nephew, Isaac currently serving in South Korea.
- Work for peace! No one hates war more than those who have known war. War is hell — the end of war is our cause for celebration. Veterans I know are the last to aggrandize their experience — many keep silent about their actual experience because they never want their loved ones to know what they have known. We honor them best by reverencing the full truth of their sacrifice.
Today we commemorate the end of a horrific war. We recognize the sacrifice and loss of family and neighbors in all war. We honor those who serve today. With those who have known the ultimate cost first hand we pray, “Never again! Never again, war!”