Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans--and others--I Remember Today

We hung our flag yesterday afternoon in honor of all the veterans who have served our country. Have you remembered to say "thank you" to the veterans you know? Depending on your age, it's possible you don't know any or aren't sure who has served and who hasn't. The first Sunday closest to Veterans Day that we spent in California is one I will never forget. There was a time in the service when veterans were recognized and honored for their commitment and they were asked to come forward and stand across the front. It is a large santuary, seating around 1400 people and that day it was pretty full. I remember sitting in wonder as hundreds of people stood and came forward. Some walked briskly, some came more slowly; there were both men and women; all walked proudly and held their heads high. It seemed as if more stood in the front than were left seated in the pews. A chill ran up and down my spine and tears filled my eyes.

My mother's only brother was career Army and twenty five years after he retired, he still answered the phone , "Colonel Carter." He was military to the core, the family hero and we never tired of his stories of places he served and lived in his thiry three years on active duty. His retirement came as the Vietnam conflict was gathering steam, but he was ready to go if sent. I remember him today.

Tom's brother, David, was an Army doctor for twenty plus years. Though he never saw combat, he touched the lives of many young men preparing to serve in his years at West Point Military Academy and others in his service at Walter Reed Hospital, in Korea to the troops still on duty there and later at the Pentagon. David trained as a pediatrician, with a specialty in adolescent medicine. Who could have known such training would prepare him to care for our soldiers? I remember him today.

Then there is the special veteran with whom I share my life--Tom. The Army was a big part of our life when we married. Knowing that he would soon be sent to Vietnam, we planned a really quick wedding and took off for Ft. Sill, OK. Five months later he has on his way. Tom was an artillery officer, serving as a liasion with the 1st Infantry Division. He saw plenty of combat and although he has shared some stories, there are many more things that he never talks about. Sometimes when the effects of Tom's illness get to me, I picture him in his most military posture or in his dress blues and I know that on his inside he retains that posture. I remember him today and have already said "thank you" once. Before the day is over I'll tell him again.

Today I also remember those who are on active duty, both in battle and those out of harm's way. I think of those whose names I will never know and I think especially of Jeri and Martin's son on a second tour of duty and Kathy's husband recently deployed. I think of spouses and children waiting for a word; I think of spouses and children whose loved ones will never come home. I think of those veterans who have come home bearing scars either physical or emotional. All have paid or are paying a price so that you and I might enjoy freedom.

Along with expressing thanks to our veterans today, pray for peace--not just the absence of conflict, but for the presence of the one whose name is Peace. Pray that the Prince of Peace would be triumphant in the world.

Pastor Margaret

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