Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:3
One of the things I have instilled in my son is something I have practiced for many years, to shake hands with and thank the men and women who wear a uniform. This refers to our police officers, our firefighters and most especially the men and women of our military. I have always had a great respect for our military and first responders. Why? Because they have chosen careers that come with great risk to their personal lives. There isn’t an evening that goes by that one of them won’t make it home from work, that one will die in service to our country. While most people run away from danger, these people run toward danger.
The men and women of our military sacrifice so much of their freedom to secure our freedom. They become part of a cohesive team, putting aside personal ideas and personal comfort to be part of a unit. They deploy to foreign countries. They live out of backpacks, carry their gear wherever they go, eat bad food, live without creature comforts of such basic things as running water and electricity. And they do all of this to secure and protect the freedoms that each of us enjoys in America. Some don’t return from their duty. Some return with permanent injuries. Other suffer mental trauma like post-traumatic stress.
It takes a special kind of person to want to sign up for all of this. This is why we set aside a special day to honor our veterans. Today should not be a holiday, in the sense of thinking of it as a day off or even a day to celebrate. It is a day to solemnly reflect on the many soldiers who didn’t make it home. And it is a day to thank all the soldiers who did. I try to thank every soldier I see and I encourage you to do the same.
In the Orthodox Liturgy, we pray for our armed forces at every service. That’s the high importance we place on them. We don’t wait until November 11 each year to remember them and to pray for them. While we pause today to remember, pray for and thank our veterans, ideally we make every day Veterans’ Day. Ideally we pray for them every day. Ideally we thank them at every opportunity. Because freedom is not just something we value on certain days of the year. It is something we value every day of the year. And our Veterans are the ones who have fought for, protected and preserved the freedom we enjoy.
Lord, our God, thank You for the gift of freedom. Thank You that I am free to pray, to work, and to live in the way that I do. Thank You for the soldiers who have fought and died to preserve the freedoms we enjoy. Lord, protect the men and women who serve in our armed forces. Be with and strengthen their families while they are apart. Keep them safe from harm. Give rest to all of our soldiers who have fallen. Comfort their grieving families. Continue to inspire men and women to step forward and answer the call to serve our country. Amen.
Thank a soldier today (and often)!