“Thank You For Your Service”

The family tree is full of them.  Charlie, for instance, had lied about his age to join, a habit he continued when he met my mother, only in the other direction when he didn’t tell her he was actually younger than she was until their wedding day.  But the lanky kid from Waco was determined to do his part in the war nonetheless, and so the Navy put him to laying submarine nets in the Pacific even though he couldn’t swim. While half a world away, my wife’s father John found himself a German P.O.W. before managing to escape and somehow make his way back across hundreds of hostile miles. 

Then there was Durwood whom I never met but often heard about while growing up.  For my mom’s favorite cousin was also there on that fateful morning in June when Operation Overlord, more commonly known as D-Day, began the beginning of the end of the war that had ravaged all of Europe.  Only Durwood never came back from the invasion and I still have the photo of him, looking for all the world like just another teenage kid in a uniform that seemed too big for him, doing a task that was similarly oversized for his simple farm boy upbringing.

Roy, too, died while serving, though later on and not in a far-off land.  His Navy jet crashed far closer to home one night, leaving behind a wife and three young children, my wife’s only aunt and cousins.  Then later still, my older cousin Benny (rhymes with Vinny, I know) went to what is still the largest U.S. Air Force base in the Pacific, the Japanese island of Okinawa.  And though it had been several years since the last major battle of the Pacific war took place on that rock, with some 50,000 Allies killed or wounded, I still remember how the family prayed for him and hung upon every letter he wrote.

When Vietnam came along, another cousin closer to my own age, Bobby, was drafted.  And though like Benny he returned from his military service overseas, he brought back numerous demons from that jungle with him as well.  He died far younger than he should have, having never been quite the same after his experiences there.  

All of them had one thing in common, however, which is that when the call to duty came, they responded and went.  And it strikes me that such has been the experience of millions of men and women over the years who on this day we honor as veterans.  For in serving their country they served all of us as well, growing up much faster than many ever have to do.

The next time you see a veteran go ahead and thank them for their service, even if the phrase sounds a bit cliché these days. And when you say your prayers today, don’t forget the vet. For the very fact that you and I have the freedom to practice our faith so openly is in large part because of what they did.  

Even if they had to lie about their age to do it.

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5 Responses to “Thank You For Your Service”

  1. Frankie Watson says:

    Thank you Pastor Chap for helping us to remember our family/friends loved ones who we have lost. Veterans Day is one of my favorite holidays. I can vividly remember one of my best friends lost her fiancee in Viet Nam and we were so terribly upset. On this day I remember it like it was just yesterday. So good, you are back to writing your blogs.

  2. Don Henderson says:

    A great tribute to our men and women that have or are serving the USA through military duty. Although some believe the military is only to fight battles, my experience confirmed that the military service has helped thousands find a career and also establish discipline to move forward with successfully in years to come. And most important our country has contributed to better lives for citizens in countries around the world.

  3. Thank you dear friend for remembering them all. My American Dad lied about his age…. the only time in his life …to join the Army at 15. He served in World War II , Korea and Vietnam . He asked me decades before his death to officiate his Service of Witness to the Resurrection . I took a few the empty shells of the military 21 gun salute and a bit of dirt…setting off the TSA on my way back to Colorado ..’What’s this’? “Mm M my …My dad ,” sputtered … and bawled. “Oh go on” ; the agent said with the wave of an arm.

  4. Marvin Fuller says:

    Thank you Pastor for your remembrance of Veterans who answered the call. Many still suffer from various diseases and other ailments because of their service.

  5. John Simmons Jr. says:

    Well said.
    I have been thinking of my father today.

    Of course I never knew him. I only had what was left of him after the war. From things I had been told, I am a lot like he was before he went to battle for our country.

    He was to finish his twenty years of service only to feel he had failed somehow as he never attained the rank and recognition of Full Colonel.

    He battled briefly, as he was captured and made a Prisoner of War before he saw the light of day in France. As a prisoner he honored his pledge to disrupt enemy activities at every opportunity; escaping three times but only succeeding on his third attempt. He weighed one hundred nineteen pounds when he rejoined the Allies.

    When he returned to civilian life he attained a law degree, only to find out he could not tolerate the different kind of conflict of trials. He could not stand being verbally assaulted as a liar, being accused of twisting the words of others, and just being underhanded in general.

    He abandoned practicing law full time and became a college Professor, which I believe he greatly enjoyed. Every one of my contemporaries who studied under him said they enjoyed his classes, in which he deployed interesting stories to illustrate his points while effectively passing on his knowledge of Business Law, Taxes, and Insurance. He reserved his practice for a few cases at a time, many of them Pro Bono.

    He loved my mother and his dog, as well as his children to a lesser degree (often saying he would trade any of his children for his dog). Many truths are said in jest.

    He kept to himself around the home, only really communicating with my mother. They loved each other dearly. Her only cherished possession was an amythest drop which she wore around her neck. He prized the ring he bought in Japan and his first edition Accutron watch. My mother would add his watch and ring to her necklace every time my father had surgery. Giving them back to him was one of her greatest joys. They are being being cared for along with the amythest drop by my twin sister.

    My father was a man of high moral character.
    He died serving his country

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