This week marked the 95th Anniversary of the ending of the “Great War” - known for the past 68 years as World War I. The horrors of that first truly modern war were so horrific that returning veterans clamored for a day to remember the blessing of Armistice. As future generations of Americans were called to again defend liberty around the globe, Armistice Day eventually gave rise to Veterans Day. This is the one time when America officially pauses to reflect on the sacrifice and service of our uniformed veterans. It is when we collectively say, “Thank you.”
One of the beautiful truths about Veterans Day is that we honor all our servicemen and women - regardless of branch, era, or role. We set aside those current issues that tend to divide us, including political party and ideology, and simply express our gratitude that so many have willingly served to keep us free.
Since our nation’s founding 236 years ago this year, Americans have stepped forward numerous times to resist tyranny and oppression. Without fail, our peace-loving nation has risen to the challenges of war. American patriots have fought, bled, and died on battlefields with names like Bunker Hill; Antietam, Shiloh, and Gettysburg; Verdun and Belleau Wood; Iwo Jima, Normandy, and Corregidor; Pork Chop Hill and Pusan; Ple Ku and Ia Drang; Baghdad, Ballad, and Bagram.
But as valiantly as we have fought for and defended those pieces of ground, our nation has never fought to expand its own territory or claim foreign soil. As Colin Powell observed:
“Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.”
Our military veterans have not served and fought to make us rich, but to keep us free. Free from oppression. Free from tyranny. Free from terror.
I continue to serve in the United States Air Force as a Reserve officer. When I entered the Air Force 29 years ago, I had to memorize the American Code of Conduct. The first and last stanza read:
“I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.
“I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.”
It is fitting that this uniquely American oath recognizes and prioritizes our dependence on Almighty God. Without His continued benevolence, our land will not overflow with blessing. One of His greatest blessings has been to raise up patriots and heroes who serve the cause of freedom. God Himself also modeled the kind of sacrificial love every veteran demonstrates as they willingly serve. In the words of Jesus Christ, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Gratitude for the freedom He offers is one way to bless God.