Honoring Veterans The Right Way [repost]

Disclaimer: I’m a patriotic crier. I love the United States of America, and proudly call her the greatest nation in history. So whenever I watch a patriotic movie, or serve at a veteran’s funeral, or even sing the national anthem before a Cedar Springs football game, I get misty.

I believe we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our veterans. But I also believe we may not be honoring that debt in the right way.

We usually honor our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have given “their last full measure of devotion” by playing taps at their funeral, firing a 21-gun salute, or even putting a flag in the sacred ground of their burial site every year at Memorial Day.

But what about our vets who are still living? Don’t they deserve more than just an occasional visit on Veterans Day?

In many ways, we treat Veterans Day like we do Thanksgiving Day: it’s just one day on our calendar to take care of our obligations to be grateful, and then we can continue on with business-as-usual until the next year.

Wouldn’t it be more fitting for us to treat Veterans Day—like Thanksgiving Day—as a culmination of another year full of gratitude? After all, it’s very likely that we wouldn’t even be able to enjoy our business-as-usual lives if it were not for the sacrifices of our veterans.

The Apostle Paul gives us a good pattern to follow. Four times in his letters he says, “I thank God for you every time I remember you” (Romans 1:9; Philippians 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:3; Philemon 4). In these times of thanks, he is remembering others who put their lives on the line for freedom, just as our veterans have done for us.

Here are at least three things we can learn from Paul’s thankfulness to apply to our gratitude for our veterans —

  1. Keep mementos of remembrance around you. Perhaps it’s an American flag, or a picture, or a Veterans Day program. Simply find something that will jog your memory frequently about the debt of gratitude we owe to our vets.
  2. Pray for our veterans. Paul often told his friends that when he was filled with thoughts of gratitude about them, he turned those thoughts into prayers for them.
  3. Turn your feelings into actions. When you see one of your mementos and say a prayer for a veteran, take it a step further. Jot a note to a vet, send an email, send flowers, or take them out to lunch. Perhaps you could invite a veteran into your home for Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter, or “adopt” a veteran on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

The point is this: Let’s not make honoring our veterans something we only do on November 11. Let’s remember them often, be thankful for them always, and turn those thoughts and gratitude into action all year long.

Last Full Measure Of Devotion

“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” —Abraham Lincoln 

Links & Quotes

link quote

“The test for apostles and teachers is not that they talk wonderful stuff, not that they are able to expound God’s Word, but that they edify the saints (Ephesians 4:12).” —Oswald Chambers

“Does your self-esteem need attention? You need only pause at the base of the Cross and be reminded of this: The Maker of the stars would rather die for you than live without you.” —Max Lucado

“Sometimes the enormity of war overwhelms the truth that all great struggles are just the sum of individual stories. Each is more than just the story of one soldier’s service and sacrifice. Their service ripples across their families, friends and their communities. Memorial Day reminds us it is the noble sacrifice of many that makes us who we are.” —James Carafano

“How can we expect to foster a pro-life culture if we hide our beliefs in the shadows? Abortion clinics have flourished by boldly and unapologetically declaring their stance. As a result clinics like Planned Parenthood have become a mainstream part of our culture; being invited into our government’s budget, school systems and communities. Pro-life options have been bullied into a corner where their life affirming options are patronized under a label of intolerance.” I love this: a pro-life pregnancy center is going to open in Georgia just 10 feet away from an abortion clinic.

Here’s another reason I love Cedar Springs: our City has adopted an family escaping war in Africa.

Thanking Our Veterans

I was so honored to be a part of the Veterans Day memorial service in Cedar Springs yesterday. A small crowd braved the cold, windy weather to show their support for our veterans.

Pastor Craig Carter served as the master of ceremonies, Pastor Mary Ivanov offered the invocation, Col. Tom Noreen shared some important things for us to remember about our veterans, the Kent County Honor Guard was on hand for the 3-volley salute, Ethan Sommer brilliantly played taps, and I got to offer the closing prayer of blessing on our veterans and their families.

Even though Veterans Day 2012 has past, please continue to find ways all throughout the year to show your gratitude to our past and current military personnel for their service to our country.

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Thank you Harrison for snapping these pictures while your fingertips were freezing!

Veterans Day 2012

A scene from our Veterans Day memorial in 2011

I think every day in the United States of America should be Veterans Day, as we have too many special people to thank in just one day! But it is fitting and proper for us to at least have one day where we honor those who have put themselves in harm’s way to preserve our freedom.

In Cedar Springs, a special Veterans Day memorial will be held at noon on Monday, November 12, in the Veterans Memorial Park. I hope you can make the time in your schedule to join me at this memorial service.

The Cedar Springs Post has all of the details listed on its website.

May God bless our veterans and their families for the sacrifices they have made for us.

Act Of Valor (movie review)

I have always had great respect and appreciation for the soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines that keep us safe. After seeing Act Of Valor, that level of appreciation has gone up significantly!

This is a realistic movie. It’s not a Hollywood-stylized action film. It portrays that way our teams operate in the field to keep our country and her citizens safe. And it shows the real men and women, and the real emotions they have to deal with as they do a very dangerous job.

This movie is rated R for very realistic combat scenes, and some language. But for your teenagers that think they know what “real combat” is because of the video games they play, take them to see this movie and use it as a discussion of what’s really real.

Go see this film. And then thank an active duty service personnel or a veteran for their incredibly selfless service to our country.

Calendar Update

Great things happening around Cedar Springs again this weekend:

Veterans Day Celebration → A huge Chinook helicopter will be landing on Skinner Field at 11am, a memorial service at Veterans Memorial Park at 1pm, and a special American Legion flag raising ceremony at Metron at 3pm. Come honor our veterans.

Overflowing With Thanks → We’re kicking off a brand new series at Calvary Assembly of God, as we lead up to Thanksgiving Day. There is such a power when we live our lives focused on all of the blessings we have received. When thanksgiving is a lifestyle — not just a day — we’re living the way God intends. Join us at 10:30am on Sunday morning.

Courageous → The Cedar Springs Ministerial Association has partnered with the Kent Theatre to offer a special showing of Courageous on Monday, November 14, at 7pm. If you cannot make this one, this incredible movie will be shown throughout the weekend (check the website or Facebook page for exact times). Tickets are just $3.

I hope you have a great weekend relaxing and recharging for another productive week!

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