Veterans Day Reflections: Thank You Veterans
It was the 11th hour in the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ended. At that time it was said to be the “war to end all wars” because of the great slaughter and destruction. While the Treaty of Versailles was not signed until seven months later, November 11th became known as Armistice Day and was proclaimed as such by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919.
Known today as Veterans Day, we recognize and celebrate those who have served in the military, both living and the dead. Those who have served our nation in the military are worthy of recognition. They have fought for freedom, provided security, kept the peace, secured liberty and protected our rights.
In 1921 the United States laid to rest an American soldier, “his name known only to God”, on a Virginia hillside overlooking Washington D.C. and the Potomac River. At this site, called “The tomb of the unknown soldier” located in Arlington National Cemetery, traditionally the President of the United States will participate in a special wreath laying ceremony.
The “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” reminds us of many who’ve served who were indeed unknown. Famous Generals have found their way into the history books. They are American heroes. We name schools, streets, and buildings in honor of them. Yet, it is the many “lesser-known” soldiers who have fought, sacrificed, and served to keep our country safe.
I’m also reminded that there are brothers and sisters in Christ who have answered their country’s call to serve and while serving our nation, they have also served and honored the Lord. These “Christian soldiers” especially deserve our respect and appreciation.
While some seem to have an aversion to the military, the Bible teaches it is proper to accord “respect to whom respect” is due and “honor to whom honor” is deserved as it relates to civil government. Both apostles Peter and Paul spoke to that issue (Rom. 13:7, 1 Pet. 2:17).
Furthermore, the Bible uses military metaphors to identify Christians and our mission. Christians are called soldiers (2 Tim. 2:4). We must suffer hardship, not be entangled by worldly matters and please our commander - Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 2:3-4).
Paul called Epaphroditus a “fellow soldier” (Phil 2:25). Ephesians 6:10-18 identifies the armor of the “Christian soldier.” We are to be prepared for battle against our archenemy - Satan but our warfare is not carnal. It is spiritual (2 Cor. 10:4).
This analogy reminds us of the veterans of faith. Those who have steadfastly served in the Lord’s army for many years who have fought the good fight, kept the faith, finished the course, and gone on to their heavenly reward.
We are indebted to the heroes of faith dating back to the apostles who were persecuted, beaten, stoned and martyred. They received the Word, spread the gospel, and laid a foundation for
future Christians to build upon. Through succeeding generations, there have been those men and women who were true to the Word, stood for righteousness, shared their faith and left a spiritual legacy for their children and grandchildren.
I am a Christian today because of those Christian soldiers. My Granny Key was such a soldier. Her faith was passed on to my mother, my father, to me and our children and hopefully one day our grandchildren.
I think of many veteran preachers through the years who have made a difference in my life who have passed on into eternity: Aude McKee, Robert Jackson, James P. Miller, Raymond Harris, Roy Cogdill, Clinton Hamilton, Homer Hailey, John Clark, Rufus Clifford Sr., James R. Cope, Edgar Srygley, Harry Payne Sr., Ed Harrell, Harry Pickup and Dee Bowman.
These in various ways, both directly and indirectly, have taught me, mentored me, encouraged me and inspired me and so many others to be faithful soldiers of Christ. In addition, we have several veterans, advanced in years, who are continuing to serve. Men like Paul Earnhart, Bob Owen, Sewell Hall, Bill Hall, David Tant and Melvin Curry.
These veterans of faith and so many others have provided opportunities where we can worship God, do His work, and enjoy the blessings of solid, faithful congregations and then I think of all the “unknown soldiers” of Christ in little towns across America, men and women known only to God and their local communities, wives of preachers and pastors, many largely forgotten. Yet they stood for truth, opposed error, loved the Lord, let their light shine, served their church family, shared their faith and quietly walked with Jesus with no fanfare or desire for recognition.
So on this Veterans Day holiday, while we thank God and honor the American soldier, remember those veterans of faith who have waged spiritual battles so we can enjoy freedom in Christ.