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Veteran’s Day thoughts

Tomorrow is a very special day in the life of our country. It is Veteran’s Day. It used to be called Armistice Day, to mark the time World War I ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

Unfortunately, wars have come and wars have gone and we still find ourselves in the midst of armed conflicts, with our young men and women still going off to fight in faraway places. We know that this is the way human nature is, that sometimes it is necessary to fight for one’s freedoms. But I often wonder if we ever consider the cost of all of that.

That is, until we know someone who has to go off to fight. Or we hear about it from someone close. Or we have to do it ourselves, and these armed flare-ups bring back all kinds of stressful memories for us to deal with all over again.

In my study there is a picture of a young man in his Army uniform, a newly pinned first lieutenant bar on his hat. That man is my father, and I heard many times the story of the taking of that picture — in Rome right after the Allies liberated the Eternal City in June of 1944.

Dad didn‘t talk about the war very much. He did share a little in the last years of his life and the combination of that and reading his war diary clued me into how much horror he had witnessed, along with some rather scary instances that reminded me how close I came to not being here.

He didn‘t want to go to war, but he knew it was coming so he signed up early so he could get a head start on everything. I don’t know too many people who want to go to war. Some go to the fighting more willing than others. But no one relishes the prospect of being shot at, or having the next bullet with your name on it.

But there is a sense of duty, of responsibility, that comes with going off to war. Maybe that’s why there are so many Christian hymns that have militaristic images. It would be easy to be dismissive of those who go off to fight, in view of all the Biblical passages that say, “Thou shalt not kill.” But there are also stories of those who have fought the good fight of being faithful Christians, and, sometimes, young men and women who fight to keep us safe do that in the context of war.

We all know folks who are in the military, and some who may be deployed to dangerous places or to places where those who have been wounded may receive healing.  Perhaps rather than questioning their priorities, we need to thank them for their service and pray that God will hold them close as they fight to keep us safe.

Rev. Dr. Tom Robinson is pastor of Farmville Presbyterian Church. His email address is robin216@embarqmail.com.