As a civilian, I don’t know about war. I know what I’ve seen in movies and tv. I know what I’ve read, but that’s the extent of it. I don’t have any true idea what Scott, my father, and many others have been through. I do know I have a lot of love and respect for them and will continue do my part to support our Veterans.
The editorial below by Pastor Corey Bjertness “nails it” according to Scott. I believe it’s a must read and hope you share it.(Scott is on the left in this photo)
I am a veteran. So, I am glad the nation observes Veterans Day. I really am, I think it is good for us as a nation to measure the cost of our many wars. Veterans Day helps us do that. Moreover, I think it stems the tide of entitlement that sweeps over us to remember those that have paid a heavy burden on behalf of the nation.
But, for me I can’t find a way to love November 11th. It is a day filled with too many paradoxical emotions and feelings. Here are just a few.
1. To be a veteran is more about pain than patriotism.
I don’t need a day of the year to remember the names of the soldiers whose blood was left on the ground. Every day is that day. I return to certain days of war like an addict returns to his next fix. I don’ want to live with it, but I can’t find a way to live without it. My soul cannot or will not release the names of those who were killed, the days they died, where I was when their death was announced and how I felt. That steel trap has set its teeth. So, Veterans Day – I cannot find a way to love it.
2. To be a veteran is more about faces than flags.
Let me introduce you to Kyle Miller. A red haired Irish kid who always looked like he had just pulled a practical joke on you. One night he knocked on the door of my quarters and said, “Hey, Chaplain, were you awake?” I said, “Absolutely!” I will never forget the conversation I had with Kyle. He told me that he was part of a mission to Camp Balad that would leave on Monday. He asked me to be there when they left to pray with them. Then he asked me, “Chaplain, do you believe in dreams?” I told him, “I don’t know. What are we talking about?”
He went on to say that every night for a week he had a dream that on the mission his HUMVEE rolled over a roadside bomb and he was killed. He said that every night in his dream he watched himself die. We talked a long time that night. I offered to have him pulled off that mission. He refused, “Chaplain if I don’t go on that mission and somebody else dies…..I couldn’t live with myself.” We concluded that night in prayer
Kyle was killed just as he dreamed he would be. On June 29th, a Thursday, at 0230, leaving Camp Balad his HUMVEE rolled over a roadside bomb and he was killed. We did his memorial service the following week. Most of Veteran’s Day I will be thinking about Kyle and all the others who sacrificed so much. So, Veteran’s Day – I cannot find a way to love it.
3. To be a veteran is more about loss than liberty.
I think about what George and those like him lost. George loved America enough to join the National Guard during wartime. He told his Dad, “I have to do my part or how could I live with myself.” And with that thought in mind he followed the family legacy of military service and joined at age seventeen. Friends described George as the type of guy who would give the shirt off his back.
George stood five feet three. But his convictions were mile high and canyon deep. He was the type of man who could tune a guitar and also tune up a Honda Civic. He liked country music, played in a garage band, but when he needed to relax would listen to classical music, often Chopin. We have a word for young men like George. He was an all-American.
George the only son of Richard and Gloria was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. Two weeks later I stood with his family as we laid his body to rest at Camp Ripley, Minnesota. On Veterans Day, I will not be thinking about liberty won. I will be thinking about George and his mom and dad and the depth of their loss. So, Veterans Day I cannot find a way to love it.
On Veterans Day, I will do what is my custom. I will brush off my dress blues, shine my shoes and do my duty. At noon, at 619 Broadway in Fargo, North Dakota I will lead God’s people in worship as we remember all of these sacrifices. We will sing the patriotic hymns that tug at our soul. We will remember because that is what good people do – that is what God’s people do. But, I don’t have to like it.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a
man lay down his life for his friends.
Have a Great Week!