During the Iraq war in 2004 the Wall Street Journal ran a front page story about the “new training” the Marines were receiving.
In addition to being drilled in combat skills and heavy weaponry, they were receiving instruction regarding respect for the Iraqi citizens. The Marine commanders borrowed the maxim from the Hippocratic Oath: “First do no harm.” The philosophy behind the new protocol was not intended to put the Marines at unwarranted risk, but defuse hostility and suspicion. The article called it a “reprogramming campaign” that teaches these skilled soldiers to ask questions first and shoot later.
Yesterday, we introduced the word of the week, “respect.” My interaction and observation of the American military through the years has been very positive. They are men and women who demonstrate great respect for our country, our flag, and the Commander-in-Chief, regardless of his political party.
Today, on the Veterans Day, we have an opportunity to return that respect. It is day to honor those who have served in our military. Both living and dead. To thank them for their service. To celebrate their contribution. To remember their sacrifice.
The day was originally known as Armistices Day, when fighting of WWI ended on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour. That was 1918. The next year President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first observance with these 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…”
In 1921 The United States laid to rest a WW1 American solider, “his name known only to God”, on a Virginia hillside overlooking Washington and the Potomac. The site was called “The Tomb of the Unknown Solider” which is located in Arlington National Cemetery.
As have previous Presidents, Barack Obama will participate in the ceremony at Arlington today by placing a wreath at the tomb of the unknown Solider.
In his Veteran’s Day Proclamation, President Obama said, “ This day, and every day, we pay tribute to America’s sons and daughters who have answered our country’s call. We recognize the sacrifice of those who have been part of the finest fighting force the world has ever known and the loved ones who stand beside them. We will never forget the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice and all those who have not yet returned home. As a grateful Nation, let us show our appreciation by honoring all our veterans and working to ensure the promise of America is within the reach of all who have protected it.”
The Bible teaches that it is proper to accord honor to whom honor is deserved as it relates to civil government. Both apostles Peter and Paul spoke to that issue (Rom. 13:7: 1 Pet 2:17).
Those who have served our nation in the military are worthy of our respect. They have fought for freedom. Provided security. Kept the peace. Secured liberty. Protected our rights.
The “Tomb of the unknown solider” reminds us of many who have served who are unknown. Famous Generals have found their way into the history books. They are American heroes. We name schools, streets and buildings in honor of them. Yet, it is the many “lesser known” soldiers who have fought, sacrificed and served to keep our country safe. There are brothers and sisters in Christ who have answered their country’s call to serve. And while serving our nation, they have served the Lord as well and honored him. These “Christian soldiers” especially deserve our respect and appreciation.
Indeed we are indebted to Veterans. Thank you! And may God bless you.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman