At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year of Our Lord 1918, the guns fell silent in France. A truce signifying the end of the “War to End All Wars” brought with it an uneasy, yet peaceful serenity to the thousands of soldiers, Allied Forces and Germans, who had lived with terror in their hearts just prior to their demise. Tragically, life for the 116,000 dead Americans was ended in their early prime as it was for our allies and enemy soldiers alike.
While it took a considerable period of time for the Articles of Peace to be formulated and make the cease fire final, the end result was good for soldiers but ultimately tragic for the world. The proud German people were basically held responsible for all aspects of the war and treated accordingly. And with the upcoming economic disaster known as the Great Depression, the world created the very seed for a much more expanded and even more bitter contest to unfold in a mere twenty years.
With the exception of the Civil War, where Americans fought against their own brothers and cousins, World War II by far had the highest death total, over 400,000. And this number does not include those who were lost and never found in the swamps of Guadalcanal or in the snows of Bastogne. Almost every family in America was touched by the tragedy of this war on two fronts and it was one that all hoped would never be repeated.
Sadly, since that time America has been involved in many conflicts, the most noteworthy being Vietnam (over 58,000 deaths), Korea (over 36,000), Iraq (4800) and Afghanistan (almost 3400 and still growing) with a large number of smaller conflicts which also resulted in death. Despite all of the death, and the heretofore unmentioned large number of maimed and wounded who survived and suffered through these conflicts, we today once again find the world filled with hatred and animosity and the prospect of further conflict ever present in our minds.
So I would urge every American to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for each of us and our fellow countrymen, for as long as man lives on this earth there will be conflicts for which we must maintain a standing force of brave men and women ready and willing to answer the call of duty.
What can you do to honor our dead? Visit a military cemetery, participate in a Memorial Day service or event, fly your flag proudly, and thank those who have sacrificed for us. Each of us has a neighbor or friend who has sacrificed their time and in many cases their physical well- being for our freedom and they deserve our sincere gratitude and respect just like those dead patriots we honor this weekend. Don’t forget to tell them they are appreciated.
And there is one other thing we need to do. We need to pray to our Lord for the care of those who have suffered, for their families and for the souls of those departed. Won’t you join me in prayer?
Dear Lord: We thank you for always being available to talk with you and seek your guidance through prayer and we beseech you to help us find a way to end the pain and suffering that so many of our fine young men and women face due to never ending war. Hatred, anger and bitterness, all of which are a waste of good energy and contrary to what you would have us do, is so prevalent today and we each must reach into our inner selves and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, find forgiveness and peace.
We know that you love those who died in support of their country and that war is not of your doing but just another of the sins that we mere mortals have created with the free will granted to us. But help us to be strong in searching within our conscience and ridding ourselves of the very traits that, on a societal level, allow for war to take place.
And please remember those living veterans who are suffering from war wounds, both physical and mental, and help our government officials to provide the care that they have been promised instead of using their positions to further their own careers and fortune. Help them see the light and turn to you for the strength they need to listen to you and follow you in all that they do.
Finally, help our enemies to also find peace and tranquility and a willingness to come to solutions short of warfare, but help us to always be vigilant against those who do not seek peace honestly but instead use temporary periods of peace to plan for more and greater bloodshed. Let us always stand strong and resolute against such action.
Lord keep all of our military safe, be with them in their good and bad times and enter their hearts and souls to guide them in the difficult tasks that they are called upon to do. Be with them forever and with the rest of us as well and keep us straight and true in the light of your love. We pray in your Holy name, Amen.
Never forget what our heroes have done for us and honor them always. Enjoy this special holiday with picnics and relaxation time with family and friends but always put those who did so much for us first in our hearts and minds on this day. Happy Memorial Day 2014 to everyone and may Old Glory ever fly free as a symbol of what America truly means.