Well, Veteran’s Day week-end is almost over and it would be wrong of me to let it pass without a mention of all the people who have fought and died for this great country. As I have let you know in earlier posts, I never served in the Armed Forces of the United States. In fact, I turned eighteen the last year of the draft and was number 50, based on my birthday of Feb. 19th. But my father, father-in-law, cousin Dave and one of my grandfathers were all veterans. And maybe because I never served myself, I have a great appreciation for what they all sacrificed for our nation.
Each summer, our family attends the July 4th celebration at Conner Prairie, a local living history museum that holds a series of summer concerts featuring nationally known artists. And while we look forward to the music of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the July 4th concert features wonderful music from Gettysburg, marches from Sousa and a host of other renditions that stir the soul. One of the highlights is what they call, “Service on Parade” and each branch of the military is recognized as their particular anthem is played. Veterans are applauded by the entire audience of more than 15,000 and it is really something to behold.
And each time I head home from Dallas, I am amazed at how many members of the military are on each flight I am on. Without fail, people in first class will offer their seats to people in uniform and American Airlines has made some special concessions. For example, soldiers are invited free of charge into the Admiral’s Club and they are allowed to board the flight with the first group of passengers.
But the last time I was on an American flight from Dallas, they really amped it up a level. The flight attendants did something I have never heard before. They read the names, yes, a roll call, of all the military people on the flight. It was awesome. As each name was read, the rest of the passengers cheered and applauded and by the time it was over, they almost wasn’t a dry eye on the plane. I have to tell you – I know that I am biased toward American Airlines when I witness things like this. I know how much our soldiers appreciate the support of their countrymen.
How different from the way it was after Vietnam. Back then, in the late sixties, returning veterans were spit on, couldn’t find jobs and were accused of civilian atrocities. On the battlefield they were subjected to Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant that made it easier to find the north Vietnamese hiding in trees – only thing is, it caused cancer in many of our soldiers. I remember the day that the Agent Orange story was broken by Bill Kurtis out of Chicago.
And several days ago, I was asked to look at a picture of a “good looking” young man on Veteran’s Day. Turned out it was a photo taken in a radio shack in Vietnam, of a young soldier holding an automatic weapon. I didn’t recognize him – until he called to me from across the room and let me know that he was the guy in the photo. Only now, he’s in his sixties and it was the first time that it really hit home that my generation of military heroes are now getting much older, and new generations of fighting men and women are giving their lives in defense of our nation.
Some of the people I see getting on the planes in Dallas look like they should still be in high school – and to think they go to all corners of the earth and defend our freedom. Absolutely incredible. This year, for some reason, I have an even greater appreciation for Veteran’s Day. By the way, it started out as Armistice Day – named for the remembrance of the victory of WWI, which ended at 11 am on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Later, the remembrance was expanded to include veterans of all wars the US has been engaged in.
So tonight, I am reminded of warriors throughout the ages, including those mentioned in the Bible. Among others, King David was a great military leader and hero. His loyal soldiers fought with him for decades and were examples of the some of the most loyal followers in the Bible. And that is how we should be for our leader, God. We are told in 1 Chronicles 12:21-22, “They helped David against raiding bands, for all of them were brave warriors, and they were commanders in his army. Day after day men came to help David, until he had a great army, like the army of God.”
My encouragement tonight is to let you know that God wants you to be a loyal follower as well – part of His great army. And my prayer this evening is that you will serve the Lord the same way so many men and women have served us. And for those of you who have served our country in any branch of the Armed Forces – thank you… it is partly because of your effort that we remain free today – and freedom is expensive. Have a great day in the Lord.