Today we pause to honor those who have chosen to serve our nation. Notice that Veterans Day does not have an apostrophe. It’s not possessive, but is plural—a day for all Veterans. Here’s an interesting fact: In 1918, WW1 ended with the signing of the armistice agreement. The signing occurred at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
A year later Woodrow Wilson used the term “splendid forgetfulness” to describe American’s post-war lives. He rallied against that complacency by establishing Veterans Day.
So today, we step out of that splendid forgetfulness and we remember. Remember those who never made it home; those who spent time as POW’s, those who came home with PTSD, those who gave up Christmases with family and missed hallmark moments with their children. They deserve our remembrance. Their sacrifice was great. It was given that we might live in freedom from oppression, free to work a job of our choice, to worship as we please, to speak without fear. The sacrifice is not theirs alone. It belongs to mothers, fathers, spouses, and children. On this Veterans Day, I am honored to share the words of those who paid that price.
From one of my former students:
“I am nearing five years of service in the Army as an Airborne Chaplains Assistant/Religious affairs specialist. I have two deployments (only one combat) and I have served with 8th Psychological Operations Group and 5th Special Forces Group.
Serving in the military has been the only thing I have ever wanted to do. I believe it takes a calling to serve and continue to do so once your initial enlistment time is through. I have known I wanted to serve ever since I was around three years old.
Being whisked away from home at eighteen years old is certainly difficult. Either one becomes a man (or woman) or one fails very quickly in this environment. There is a phrase in the military known as “hurry up and wait” in which you are berated for being too slow, then expected to wait for an extended period of time once you have arrived at wherever it is you are going. Both of these are very difficult, especially when mixed with the mundane reality that the military is five parts waiting, four parts traveling, and one part actually doing your job.
Being a Religious Affairs Specialist in the Army brings many joyful moments my way. One of my favorite memories is when another soldier and I were working late cleaning weapons and he asked me, “So Chap, tell me about this Jesus guy.” Six months later he was getting baptized. Of course I cannot leave out the time I had the privilege of escorting the chaplain to an Afghani orphanage and passing out applesauce, Girl Scout cookies and blankets (this is north Afghanistan in the winter, it was cold at night) and other small things to the war orphans there.” ~~ Sergeant James Waddell, US Army Religious Affairs NCO
From a military daughter:
“I was exposed to diverse military families while growing up which instilled in me a love and respect for all different people. I was also given many traveling opportunities that other children are not afforded only because my dad would be stationed to a new USAF base. It was a positive experience overall for me.” ~~ Michele Ensign
From a military mother:
“Sending a son or daughter off to war is both a mother’s worst nightmare and proudest moment. I was in awe of my son’s willingness to serve, but terrified of what that service might ask of him. I was helpless to protect him from what was to come, but that’s when I discovered the power of prayer. Having a son serving on the front lines taught me that prayer isn’t a last resort, it’s the first line of defense for those we love.” ~~ Edie Melson, author of While My Soldier Serves
From a military wife:
As a Navy spouse, the two most important things I have learned over the last 15 years are that time is precious and an experience is what you make of it. Some of the hardest days in my life have been those goodbyes and by contrast, the homecomings have been the very best. I’ve had the privilege to relive the excitement of my wedding day countless times. The sadness of farewell disappears in the elation of reunion. The flip side is: the minute his boots hit the pier the clock starts ticking down to when he has to leave again. There is a sense of urgency with our time together, make every moment count. Our family has also missed celebrating many, many holidays and special events together. However, birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgivings & Christmases are all experiences that are made special by WHO you’re with, not the day they are celebrated. We had to postpone Christmas until February one year and it was still an amazing day of love and special traditions. Thank goodness for fake trees! Our daughters miss him terribly when he’s gone but as a mother, seeing them run to meet him and melt into their Daddy’s arms when he gets home from a deployment….my heart absolutely soars. There aren’t words to describe that feeling. I am so thankful that the Lord blessed me with such a brave, selfless, and steadfast man and while the Navy Wife Life may be hard, He knows my sacrifice and He is with me every step of the way. ~~ Carman Owens
Sending a big thank you Jay, Michele, Edie, and Carman, for sharing from their hearts. If you’re a booklover as I am, here are a few recommendations that help us to remember. I’ve hyperlinked the titles for your convenience.
Winner of two awards—Best First Book by the National Readers Choice and a bronze medal from the Military Writers Society of America.
Mac and Sophie grieve the loss of their son. Mac thinks he can handle his grief and guilt by running away. His job in Afghanistan leaves Sophie to find healing alone. Can their love survive the distance and the hurt? Have a box of tissues handy when you read.
Author Suzy Parish does a remarkable job of describing Afghanistan–both the rugged war-torn terrain and the beauty of the human spirit. Pour a cup of good coffee and settle back to enjoy this story. It will touch your heart. Free on Kindle Unlimited. Free with your Audible trial. Paperback format is available for those of us who love the aroma of a new book and the texture of physical pages.
Until June is a novel that whisks you to a different time and place. Nearing the end of WWI and set in Alaska, Josephine displays a heart of compassion, first for her ailing mother and later for Geoff, a wounded warrior. Geoff returns from war after losing both legs to an explosion. He’s hurting, both physically and emotionally, and he makes it difficult for those around him. Josephine’s job is to care for him until June. Through the journey of care, we meet the real Geoff. The man behind the injury. Characterization is so strong and well written as we see the unfolding of his true personality; a man who never anticipated the turn his life would take. In time, Josephine begins to see the man, not the injury.
Until June was a Pages From the Heart finalist. This is a powerful message for all people—a challenge to see wounded warriors and people with physical impairments for who they are, not for their disability. I highly recommend it.
While My Soldier Serves, by Edie Melson Prayers for Those with Loved Ones in the Military
This book of prayers offers words of comfort for those waiting at home. Author Edie Melson, a former military mother, shares that prayers are the first line of defense for those we love. Great words for mothers everywhere. These pages address fear, loneliness, patience, faith, strength, protection, encouragement, and more.
This book has been used on the National Day of Prayer, and was chosen by Cracker Barrel stores in 2017 as their featured military book.
While I personally don’t have military children, I’ve gifted this book to those who do. What better gift to give those who wait at home! Take a moment today to pray for our armed forces.