Voicing our Gratefulness on Veterans Day
On November 11, 1918, the “war to end all wars” effectively came to an end with the signing of an armistice agreement. For over four years, the conflict which came to be known as World War I had raged across Europe, claiming the lives of millions and disrupting the lives of many more. Even though the United States entered the conflict during the later stages of the war, it still claimed the lives of over 100,000 American soldiers.
When the fighting ceased on November 11, the United States breathed a collective sigh of relief that this bloody conflict was finally over. In the ensuing months, veterans began returning home from the battlefront. As they did, it became clear that their sacrifices and bravery needed to be honored. So, on November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson commemorated “Armistice Day” by setting aside this date as a special occasion on which a grateful nation would salute and honor their veterans.
Nearly 100 years later, that initial celebration has morphed into what we know as Veterans Day, an annual celebration on which we honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
As Christians in America, we are grateful for every person who has answered the call to serve in defense of our freedoms. When you look around the world and realize just how fragile freedom really is, it should make us stop and appreciate even more the brave men and women who put their lives on the line in order to defend it at home and abroad.
On Veterans Day, we should be explicit in our appreciation and thanksgiving by doing what we can to honor the veterans in our midst. If there are veterans at your school or workplace, or in your family or church, reach out and share your gratefulness with them. Even if you don’t know a veteran personally, consider donating to a veterans-related charity as a way of expressing your gratitude. At the very least, you can offer a prayer of praise for our veterans. If you’re not sure how to pray in this way, consider praying the words below…
God of peace, we pray for those who have served our nation and who laid down their lives to defend our freedom. We pray for those who have fought, whose spirits and bodies are scarred by war, whose nights are haunted by memories too painful for the light of day. We pray for those who serve us now, especially for those in harm’s way. Shield them from danger and bring them home. Turn the hearts and minds of our leaders and our enemies to the work of justice and a harvest of peace. Let the peace you left us be the peace which sustains and delivers us now and forevermore. AMEN.