On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month ~ Armistice. Truce. The original Veterans Day, November 11, 1918, marked the end of the fighting for World War I. One year later, President Wilson declared a commemoration of the day; then Congress declared it a legal holiday in 1938. Called Armistice Day then, it was changed to Veterans Day by President Eisenhower in 1954 to salute all who served.
Today is a special day to honor our veterans. And they are ours even if a pacifist, for just as peace in the home comes with a price, so does peace on a larger scale. We all benefit from their patriotism, ambition, and courage: “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.“ And “The soldier does not fight because he hates what is before him but because he loves what is behind him” (G.K. Chesterton). There is merit to voluntary service (and some yearn for it but cannot), whether one enlistment or a twenty-year career, and it should be acknowledged and appreciated. This day can be a deliberate consideration of those who served.
So let us remind ourselves and teach our children what is an armistice; what is a veteran; what happened then; what happens now; and how our Mother Church ministers to them and the world. Tell the stories (Four chaplains, Dan Daly, a list of veteran saints, a chronological list to begin), look at the pictures, pray for them . . . and sleep easy.
Lord God, Almighty Father,
creator of mankind and author of peace,
as we are ever mindful of the cost paid for the liberty we possess,
we ask you to bless the members of our armed forces.
Give them courage, hope and strength.
May they ever experience your firm support, gentle love and compassionate healing.
Be their power and protector, leading them from darkness to light.
To you be all glory, honor and praise, now and forever.