REMEMBERING OUR VETERANS
Last Sunday I participated in the baptism and confirmation of a veteran who served in the US Army. Like many others, she wrote me a letter. She granted me permission to share a portion of her letter with you.
Hello Bishop Kendrick,
I will tell you a little about myself...
I was in the military for a total of 16 years, signing on in 2005. I was medically retired in 2021 because I have multiple sclerosis.
I started coming to All Saints in 2008 with my Sergeant Major, Will English. He was a member of the church, and he asked a group of us in the unit if we would like to come to service with him one Sunday. I said to myself "Sure, why not. What's it going to hurt? It will get me out of formation for a little while."
Well, one Sunday turned into many and I just felt like I was supposed to be there. Then for some reason, I just stopped going. I'm sure it was due to life just being busy (or so I thought it was). I started going back to church again about a year ago and the reason for that is that I just felt like I was missing something in my life. I had the hardest time retiring from the military because I didn't want to go. I didn't want to leave my friends and the career I had chosen since I was about 5 years old. I didn't want to leave. My husband had also said that I should go back to church because it seemed I was my happiest self when I was going to church. I started going back to church and have been going almost every Sunday since.
Friday is our country’s annual remembrance of veterans. For many, it is a day off from school or work, and given that this year it falls on a Friday, it means the gift of a long weekend. Some will raise an American flag. For our veterans, like Marilyn, the day must mean so much more. It must be a day of stirred memories that those of us who are not veterans will not fully comprehend. Marilyn’s passion for the time she served in the military inspires me. Her pain upon leaving that life touches me. And her rekindled faith encourages me.
Amid all else we may do this coming Friday and weekend, let’s not forget that for the veterans among us, this day of remembrance is deeply personal because it is THEIR story. For so many who have served, being a member of the Armed Forces meant leaving their families to join another one, a family of dedicated and diverse persons who depended upon one another for their daily sustenance and safety. The common bonds our veterans shared in serving our country can serve to inspire us as we live into our vows to follow Jesus in seeking and serving our neighbors as well as those who came back from their military experience wounded in body or soul.
To the veterans of the military branches of our nation, we thank you for your service and for your sacrifice.
A Collect For Heroic Service, The 1979 Book of Common Prayer, page 839
O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.