HONORING OUR VETERANS
“A veteran is someone who, at one point in their life wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America,’ for an amount up to and including their life.”
On every November 11th the citizens of the United States of America honor and show their appreciation for all those who have risked their lives in the line of duty. It is a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
With Public Law 380 approved on June 1, 1954, November 11th became the official national day to honor all American veterans of all wars. President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed:
Whereas it has long been our custom to commemorate November 11, the anniversary of the ending of World War I, by paying tribute to the heroes of that tragic struggle and by rededicating ourselves to the cause of peace; and
Whereas in the intervening years the United States has been involved in two other great military conflicts, which have added millions of veterans living and dead to the honor rolls of this Nation; and
Whereas the Congress passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926 (44 Stat. 1982), calling for the observance of November 11 with appropriate ceremonies, and later provided in an act approved May 13, 1938 (52 Stat. 351), that the eleventh of November should be a legal holiday and should be known as Armistice Day; and
Whereas, in order to expand the significance of that commemoration and in order that a grateful Nation might pay appropriate homage to the veterans of all its wars who have contributed so much to the preservation of this Nation, the Congress, by an act approved June 1, 1954 (68 Stat. 168), changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day:
(Federal Register, Oct. 12, 1954; 6545)
In the Veteran’s Day Proclamation of 2007, President George W. Bush affirmed:
Veterans Day is dedicated to the extraordinary Americans who protected our freedom in years past, and to those who protect it today. They represent the very best of our Nation. Every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, and Coast Guardsman has earned the lasting gratitude of the American people, and their service and sacrifice will be remembered forever. In the words of Abraham Lincoln: ‘ . . . let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the Nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle . . . .’ On this Veterans Day, I ask all Americans to express their appreciation to our Nation’s veterans. (Georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov)
The Bible teaches: “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor” (Romans 13:7, emp. added). It is proper for New Testament Christians to render honor to those who deserve it for their precious service to the nation we belong to. The freedoms we enjoy are the result of the service and sacrifice of those who have served and those who are still serving in the military forces. Without God, there is no freedom. “God alone is the inciter and guarantor of freedom. He is the only guarantor. . . . There has never been a society or a nation without God. But history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations that became indifferent to God, and died” (Chambers 16-17). Unfortunately, we often take this blessing of freedom for granted, and we do not remember and appreciate the fact that:
Ø It is thanks to the veteran and not the reporter that we have the freedom of press;
Ø It is thanks to the veteran and not the speaker that we have the freedom of speech;
Ø It is thanks to the veteran and not the politician that we have the freedom to vote.
Ø Ultimately, it is thanks to God—not any human—that freedom is obtainable.
Veterans so well deserve our respect and honor because it is they who have sacrificed so much to obtain and preserve the precious freedoms that we demand to have in our nation. As a Christian, I am grateful to any veteran who has served because, among the many freedoms I enjoy from their service, I am granted through their service the freedom of religion. This freedom permits me to exercise the God-given right to worship Him anytime and anywhere.
Reflecting on the service of a Veteran, a very significant passage comes to mind in which the apostle Paul commands Timothy: “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3-4). Paul uses the illustration of the service of a soldier to encourage Timothy to serve God in the proper way. He mentions four specific words: enlist, endure, engage, and entangle. Each word represents a different aspect of what it takes to be a good soldier of Christ (and also of any Military).
1) ENLIST. You cannot be a soldier (and become a Veteran) if you do not enlist. In our country there is no longer a forced draft. Men and women have the freedom to choose whether or not they want to serve in the American military. All Christians are called to be soldiers enlisted in Christ’s army. It is a matter of choice: we can stand with and for Him, defending His cause from the aggression of His enemies or we can refuse to serve Him. As materialism and hedonism have succeeded in modern society, less people have been enlisting in Christ’s army and that the sad consequence is seen by the progressive removal of God from our culture. It is imperative for those who have enlisted to serve faithfully, to the best of their abilities, fully equipped with the tools provided by God and defend the aggressive and loud fight of the atheist and skeptic armies.
2) ENDURE. Soldiers in ever branch of the military have a lot to endure because of the rigidity of the military life. However, one of the most difficult things is just being away from their families. James reminds Christians to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3). As soldiers of Christ, we have to endure many difficulties and hardships. We have to keep the faith and we have to praise God, even in the midst of our struggles. Enduring in our fight is not easy, especially when the enemy sounds louder and more efficient. However, Christians must remember that the defense of their faith is not based on their own abilities, but it is God who provides the appropriate tools. It has never been easy to be a Christian, because it requires a total commitment to God and a total trust in His leadership. However, there is no better commander than the one who equips his troops not only with the correct equipment, but also with the motivation to fight. As we endure under the increasing attack of atheism and skepticism, God keeps reminding us that the arguments and the battle against Him are winnable if we follow Christ’s example, not only in deeds but also in proclaiming the truth about God, Jesus, and the Bible.
3) ENGAGE. Even in time of peace, soldiers must still be prepared to engage any enemy. Through training exercises and combat practice they stay sharp and vigilant, always prepared for battle. The apostle Peter encourages Christians of all times to always be “ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). It would be foolish to expect positive results from a weak and unprepared army. God is no fool, and His soldiers must choose to not be fools either by always being ready to face any attack against their commander and defeat any argument of atheism and skepticism.
4) ENTANGLED. When one serves our American flag, he/she is expected to be completely committed to our country and to allow nothing to prevent them from performing the assigned duties and serving faithfully according to the orders received. Our world is flooded with news and claims of all kinds (i.e. scientific, historical, archaeological, medical, etc.). It is an evident tactic of God’s adversaries to use these claims as a weapon to distract the soldiers of Christ who are fighting the good fight (cf. 2 Timothy 4:7). True Christian faith fears nothing or no one but God. True Christian faith does not fear sound reasoning nor does it fetter thought in the battle for the mind (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5). True Christianity invites honest investigation (1 Thessalonians 5:21). However, a good soldier of the cross does not let anything distract him from the focus of his service: the affirmation, proclamation, and defense of God’s reality and the truth of the gospel. No soldier can win the battlefield if he gets distracted and focuses on picking berries instead of being active in the charge.
The good soldier, the one that deserves honor as a Veteran, is the one who enlists, endures, engages, and does not get entangled in other affairs. Our respect and salute is due all those who serve well. Going to war for freedom, is a war in defense of the existence of God. Today we are engaged in a war for the protection of the foundational Christian principles upon which this nation was founded. The great service performed by the veteran, whether recognized or not, is a defense of the reality of the God of Heaven Who is the source of all true freedom.
Paolo Di Luca