This coming Saturday is Veterans Day. Some of us will attend parades in honor of our vets. Some will head to the stores for the sales so tantalizingly offered, supposedly in honor of the day. Some of us will attend ceremonies or go to church. But all of us, where ever we might be, or whatever we might be doing, should stop for a moment and really honor those who have offered their service and their lives for all that America stands for. Perhaps you will choose to stop at 11:00 am for a moment of prayer. Perhaps you will have a busy day and not think about it until you notice flags flying everywhere, but it’s never too late, whenever you remember. In a few weeks most of us will be sitting down to lavish Thanksgiving dinners with all our favorite trimmings, but without the men and women who have served in our country’s military for over 230 years, we might not have that luxury. So, both on the day of the feast and on this coming Saturday we should take a moment to be thankful for our men and women in uniform past and present.
I wonder how many of you know why we celebrate our veterans on this day? Well, here’s an abbreviated history lesson: On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect. On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time.
An Act was approved on May 13, 1938, which made November 11 in each year a legal holiday, known as Armistice Day. This day was originally intended to honor veterans of World War I, but a few years later World War II required the largest mobilization of service men in the history of the United States. In 1954, the veterans service organizations urged Congress to change the word "Armistice" to "Veterans". Congress approved this change and on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor all American veterans, where ever and whenever they had served.
So, it’s not about parades or sales. It’s about thanking those who protect this country at home and abroad. On a personal level, I am thankful for all the veterans in my family: My dad and uncles who served in WWII, my brother who served in Vietnam, my step-son and nephews who served in peace time and friends, some of whom gave their lives in service and one who served faithfully for 30 years. On a far wider scale, I honor all those who fought for the freedoms I enjoy every day, from the sailors who fought the British Navy in the War of 1812 to those still serving in hot spots all over the globe.
I’m also going to take a moment to pray for the Gold Star families who didn’t put on uniforms themselves, but stood at a graveside bidding goodbye to loved ones they can never hug again, and all the rest of the families of our soldiers, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, Sailors and National Guard. They have to hold down the fort while their sons, daughters, husbands, wives, mothers and fathers serve often half the world away for months or years at a time. They too have and are sacrificing to protect the freedoms we all hold dear. And most of all, keep those in prayer who are still suffering for having served. Men and women whose lives are haunted by what they saw and did and those who came home with life changing injuries. They are heroes one and all.
So, to all who serve – Thank you for your service and God Bless you.