I was blessed and honored to speak at our schools Veterans Day Program. Here is my manuscript:
Good morning and thank you for allowing me the privilege of speaking here this morning.
First, a definition I read this week of what Veterans Day is.
“Veterans Day is a day to honor and thank All American Veterans, living and dead, for their service and sacrifice to their country.”
So, before and above all else this morning, Veterans, Thank you. Thank you for your service, your sacrifice and everything you have done and stand for. Today is for you. This country sets aside one day of recognition for a lifetime of freedom.
And I say this, not solely because it is Veterans Day, but because it is personally important to me. I have a long line of family members all the way back to before the Civil War who have fought and served in the United States military. My wife’s family is even more prolific in the men serving in the military. This is not theoretical for us, but the appreciation we have is one that we live and think of every day.
To the Veterans I want to spend a few moments this morning on what you have done and what you have stood for.
By serving, Veterans have embodied and exhibited numerous biblical principles that were first modeled perfectly by Jesus Christ.
In Johns Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples, Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
A Veterans job is that he is laying his life on the line to protect the freedoms of those back home and to protect the freedom of their country. And this is not a death wish, this is not wanting to die. One of the lines from the Toby Keith song, American Soldier says it well, “I don’t want to die for you, but if dying’s asked of me, I’ll bear that cross with honor, cause freedom don’t come cheap.”
There is that willingness to do what needs to be done. Someone has to do it mindset.
And if a people, if a country wants to be and to stay free, yes, someone does need to do the job. Whether or not one has seen combat, the decision has been made, A veteran says, I will do what needs to be done.
The Apostle Paul writes in his letter the church in Phillipi, “but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
The action of the Veteran lives this idea out. Your whole job is putting others ahead of yourself. It is putting Americans, your country men ahead of yourself. You are doing the job, making the sacrifices that others are, sometimes unwilling and sometimes unable to. A veteran puts others freedoms and lives ahead of their own.
Veterans have epitomized the biblical call to live a life in service to others. And the service you have lived, the sacrifices you have made, all of it is worthy of honor and respect and of course, thanksgiving, whether those back home are grateful or not.
I also know, you have scars, memories, wounds that no one else is able to see. That none of the rest of us can begin to understand. I know because those very things have affected people I’ve known and loved, even people I never got to meet because they couldn’t handle the things they carried with them.
America loves heroes. We love the stories of victory in battle and the warriors coming back with crowds waving and cheering, the aptly named, Heroes welcome. Unfortunately, not all are able to come back. And for those who do, often times, it seems the internal wounds are tougher to live with than the physical wounds.
If you are carrying around those heavy burdens of what was experienced, please reach out. Please find someone to talk to, please find a person who understands. And allow them to help you unload these burdens and heal these scars. It’s not fair that you have had to carry that and there are many of us who don’t take it for granted.
Ultimately, Jesus is the one who can best ease those burdens. The last scripture Ill mention is Matthew 11:28-30 where Jesus says:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
And while we owe our spiritual freedom and eternal life to Jesus, we, as Americans owe our freedom and way of life to the Veterans who have dedicated their lives to service and sacrifice, and who have put their life in the lines to allow America to be America.
To the rest of us, we can’t practically have a parade every day, but if that man is wearing a Korea or a Vietnam hat, we can acknowledge them, thank them and let them ahead of us in line.
I’m going to finish with a poem, author unknown about the debt we owe to veterans.
It is the Veteran, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Veteran, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the Veteran, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Veteran, who salutes the Flag,
It is the Veteran, who serves under the Flag,
To be buried by the flag,
So the protester can burn the flag.
Thank you. Let’s Pray: