When I was a kid, there were Time-Life video commercials about the Vietnam War with the Byrds singing “To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)”. It was the first war I heard about because our involvement had ended just before I was born. TV shows and other commercials often referenced it. I’ve read and watched documentaries on how poorly we treated our vets who returned from that war, and it’s shameful. Many of these vets didn’t choose to go because they were drafted, and yet those who opposed the war took their frustration out on them.
We’ve come a long way since then. While there are still people who oppose military action of any kind, veterans and military are honored and revered throughout the country by most people. While I believe veterans should be honored every day for their service and sacrifice for our country, it’s good to have a day like today set aside just for them. It puts the spotlight on people who don’t seek it, and gives honor to whom honor is due.
Many of us will never know the brotherhood that is developed by standing side by side in battle, trusting your life to a person beside you. We won’t hear most of the heroic and sacrificial acts of so many who gave their life to save others. I’ve been to see the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. I’ve watched as people put papers on it to lift a name from it. I was humbled and silent as I walked beside it reading the names of men and women who gave their all. I’ve been to Arlington National Cemetery and wept as I saw row upon row of white crosses.
In those moments, Jesus’ words in John 15:13 come to mind. He said, “The greatest love a person can have for his friends is to give his life for them” (GNB). It’s a humbling thing to think there are men and women who count me as a friend and are willing to give their all to protect this nation. To all of them and to all the other veterans, I say, “Thank you.” I am grateful for your service and sacrifice.