Veterans’ Day

November 11, 2009 at 9:35 am Leave a comment

Today, as everyone knows, is Veterans’ Day.  It is also an important day in Europe as it marked the end of WWI, and used to be known here as ‘Armistice Day.’

I always call my dad on Veterans’ Day and just left him a message.  He served in the Panama Canal Zone in the mid ’50s as a firefighter.

I was thinking about the big deal which is being made of Veterans’ Day this year.  When I was younger I cannot remember it being as important.  For a while I was being cynical and thinking it was just a way for Applebee’s, ESPN, etc. to get more visibility.  And it is not an immediate response to the Fort Hood attacks.

But I think there are a couple of things at work.  Firstly, we are now eight years into the ‘War on Terror’ or whatever you want to call it.  For whatever reason, whether the nature of the enemy or the wishes of the government (for some) this is going to be the longest continuous military action in American history.  Most of American history can be divided into long periods of peace versus shorter periods of intense war.  This is different.

We also have an all volunteer armed forces.  For most of the American wars the draft was central to its conduct.  But now we realize that those who are in the armed forces are those who (for the most part) have chosen to be in harm’s way.  And I also believe that the intensity of the feelings surrounding the Vietnam War have faded somewhat.

Lutheran theology has said that the soldier has a vocation – to participate in God’s work in protecting the innocent from harm.  Certainly this power and responsibility has been abused throughout history.  God’s kingdom cannot be brought about through war.  But on this side of the kingdom, soldiers who are called by a legal government to protect their citizens are participating in God’s ‘kingdom of the left,’ for the sake of peace and good order in the world.  Along with so many, I offer my thanks.

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