“I thank my God every time I remember you.” Philippians 1:3
Veterans Day is a day of remembrance. Its origins are the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month of 1918 when the treaty ending World War I was signed. A year later Americans came together to remember and honor the sacrifices of those who served during that “war to end all wars.” That first Armistice Day soldiers marched in parades and were honored as contributing greatly to peace throughout the world. In 1938 Armistice Day became a national holiday, but by this time people were coming to grips with the fact that WWI was definitely not going to be the end of war. In 1954, after WWII, Congress changed the name of the holiday to honor veterans from Armistice Day to Veterans Day to include veterans of all US wars.
The official ceremony honoring veterans takes place at Arlington National Cemetery at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. A military color guard that represents all branches executes “Present Arms” at the tomb and a Presidential wreath is placed on the grave as a bugler plays taps. Depending on where you live, you can probably find a parade, ceremony or governmental speech; but no matter where you are, Americans are asked to observe a moment of silence at 11am (11, 11, 11) to remember those who fought for our freedom.
Like most American citizens, I am aware of this day of remembrance, and, depending on what’s going on for me that day, I take a moment to say a quick prayer, or often, ashamedly, I do not. This year is different for me and I believe that going forward it always will be. You see my 19-year-old son, Luke Donell Ray, joined the Army. He is still in basic training, but I have a different perspective now.
Granted my father, my grand-father, and my great-grandfather all served in the US military. As the story goes, my great-grandfather, Oscar Adolph Pickera joined the Army when he was 21 years old and by the time he was finally shipped overseas he arrived just in time to turn around and come back – WWI was over. My grandfather, Donell “Bud” Collier, was drafted during WWII when he was 28 years old. He was married and had two (of his eventual three) daughters – my Mother was number two. He was part of the artillery in The Battle of the Bulge (16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945, the last major German offensive campaign of World War II) and eventually ended up in Czechoslovakia as an MP at the border. My father, Richard Edward Ambrose served in the Korean War as a communications specialist and although he didn’t like to talk about it, he did teach me Morse Code when I was a little girl.
These men are gone now…but their legacy lives on, as do all those who have served our country. That often quoted “Freedom isn’t free” has never rung more true for myself and many other mothers of soldiers that I’m meeting as part of a closed group Facebook page just for parents of adult-children enlisted in the Army. This group is divided down into those at each fort for basic and advanced training and even the “beyond” parents continue to give updates. Its opened my eyes to a whole new world. Although my son is doing well, writing letters, and calling when he’s allowed, some parents have yet to hear from their sons or daughters, and some have received bad news of injury, anxiety, fears or regret.
As parents, we have nurtured and protected our children from the womb. We have done everything we possibly could to ensure their safe and healthy growth – physically and mentally. God has given mothers an especially tender heart towards their children, a heart that aches when they have a scraped knee, a bad dream, or the blues after a breakup. That pain is nothing compared to the heartache I hear these Moms express over the letters or phone calls they get from their young soldiers. The heartache of being out of control, unable to comfort, restrained by rules to even contact and give a word of encouragement over the phone. And these SITs (soldiers in training) are not even in the field!
What of the soldiers that have served, that are veterans already? I teach at a community college with a great law enforcement program which equates to a lot of students that are former military. I teach classes where a good portion of my students in General Psychology and Abnormal Psychology are veterans. They have served their country and are getting an education to serve their communities. Because it’s psychology I hear a lot about the PTSD that these soldiers deal with because of their service. I read papers and listen to their struggles…and my heart aches for them and their families.
It’s very hard to understand all that’s going on inside the mind of a soldier – current or past – to understand all that they have done and gone through when you’ve never walked in their boots. But you don’t have to understand, you only need to empathize. Take any hurt, struggle, problem, fear, or sacrifice you’ve made, and remember how you felt. Then take that “moment” of remembrance today, November 11, 2016 and pray for the veterans who have laid down their lives, sacrificially, for you to be free.
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13
Almighty God, You are our Creator and Sustainer. You are our Light and our Fortress. You are our Wisdom and our Strength. Lord, you moved upon men to establish this great nation. You stirred men to hope and to dream for a land of freedom. We praise you for this great nation. Lord, you have inspired many of our best and brightest to volunteer to proudly stand and defend our beloved country. You have given us brave and loyal men and women who have steadfastly served in their chosen branch of our military. Today we remember our military personnel. We acknowledge that their service enables us to walk as free men and women in this great land. Lord, today we seek to honor your sons and daughters who have served or who are serving our country. We are reminded that because of their service we can live in safety. We ask that you abundantly bless those who have previously served. May their service time be rewarded in every way. May they gain earthly and heavenly blessings from their unselfish love of country. Lord, we stop now and remember those who are currently serving. We ask that you provide them with your protection, your strength, and your peace. We ask that you would abundantly provide for all their needs. We ask that you would enable them to overcome every personal and professional obstacle. We ask that you would protect their families from hurt and harm. May each of our veterans feel honored not just today but every day. Father, we also give special recognition to our wounded warriors. We realize that many of our heroes are dealing with physical and emotional wounds that occurred as a result of their time of service to our country. We ask that they would be given the best treatments available and that you would add your supernatural blessings to all the efforts given to them to help them. We ask that you, Lord, would show them miracles as they seek to gain health, stability, and wholeness. We pray these things in Jesus’ name, Amen. (Retrieved from www.inspirational-prayers.com/prayer-for-veterans-day)