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Troops Room>Veterans Day tomorrow
RevSmoke 08:12 PM 11-10-2016
I was initially asked to do the Invocation and Benediction at the Veterans Memorial tomorrow, which I was only to proud to consent to doing. But then, a couple weeks later I was asked to be the main speaker. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. Normally this honor is reserved for someone who has worn the uniform. I took a few days to respond, and my initial response was to decline, I was not worthy of that honor. But they persisted in pushing me to accept. I finally acquiesced to their request, but still feel woefully inadequate to the task.

I put below what I have written as my rough draft. I would like to know from those who have worn the uniform, if my words are a fitting tribute or not.

Also, it is my way to thank all of you that have, or are still, serving!

It was over a month ago that I was asked to be the speaker for this Veteran's Day Memorial. To be honest I was very reluctant to accept the request. Who am I to speak at this auspicious occasion? I never wore a military uniform in service to our country. My father did! In fact, many of my family did – uncles, cousins, brother-in-law, niece, nephew-in-law. So what gives me the right to speak here today? I have sat in my office with those who served. I tried to hold back my tears as men poured out their pain and grief over their lost brothers-in-arms, and over what they had to do. I tried to bring healing of heart and mind to men shattered by the sights and ravages of war.

While many of their brothers-in-arms did not return, it is by the service of all those who have ever donned military uniforms that we enjoy the rights and freedoms of citizenship in the United States of America. Those veterans who served, and those serving in uniform today, are the protectors of freedom.

I love history, but many have no idea of the origins of the reason we are gathered here today, so I figured a little history lesson might be in order, how it came about that we take this day to remember our Veterans.

On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was enacted between Germany and the allied nations. Seven months later, the Treaty of Versailles was signed to end the war to end all wars.

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.

However, the United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and
Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and
Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday:
Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

It was on May 13, 1938, that an Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) was approved which made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I.

But, 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; and also after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first "Veterans Day Proclamation" which stated: "In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible."

I could continue the history lesson as there is more that could be said, for example, the date for this observance was changed for a while, but I think that suffices.

Memorial Day honors all those who have served and now rest from their labors. But we gather today to remember and to thank all those who serve, and have served, in the armed forces of the United States of America. They fought that we might have the freedoms we enjoy in this country. We have the right to elect our those who are supposed to serve us in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of national, state, and local government. What a privilege they have secured for us! We honor those who serve by taking advantage of the rights they secured for us.

Now, as a nation, how will we continue to honor them? Today we take the time to thank them, publicly with our presence here. But we should also take the time to thank them for their service in person.

Do you know that each member of our military takes a vow at their enlistment? It goes like this. "I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

I believe that one of the best ways to honor them is the make use of the rights and privileges in the US Constitution which they promise to uphold and fight to defend.

The very first Amendment to the US Constitution, the first sentence of what is called the Bill of Rights, states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Maybe it is not a bad thing that as pastor, a US citizen, has been asked to speak today. I am proud to be an American citizen, for we live in the greatest nation on earth. Thanks to the men and women who have served in the many varied branches of the military, I can speak boldly today. I have the right and freedom to do so, for they have pledged themselves to defend me, and my right to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Next year someone else may express a different faith than I do, and I will thank those who served for their freedom to do so.

But today, I am thankful for the rights guaranteed by those who put on a uniform, grab a weapon, and defend my freedoms. I pray each and every day for all of them. And I am going to declare my thankfulness for their service by continuing to boldly proclaim what they have guaranteed my freedom to proclaim, that Jesus died to free men from their sins and rose to proclaim eternal life as His gift to them.

Thank you to our veterans! God bless you, each and every one!
Porch Dweller 06:19 AM 11-11-2016