YARDLEY, PENNSYLVANIA, U.S.A. It is not unusual to be inspired to write during this particular week of the year. Everywhere there are heroes to remember, heroes to see marching in parades, heroes to visit, heroes in our own families to talk to, whether in person, over the phone, or through a myriad of other ways that our current electronic gadgets allow us to communicate.
It is not unusual that we each have our own pictures of this time in our hearts and minds. The pictures may be of individuals, of groups, or of symbols that we associate with this day that we celebrate. So many are of white crosses in cemetaries not only in our country but across the world. But yet so many more are of the living, those who have served in the past, those who are serving now, and those younger ones who we know will serve in the future. The pictures also include the families, those who kept, keep now, and will keep in the future, the home fires burning. There are many more of those kind of soldiers who serve and sacrifice but do not wear the uniform of those in battle. They wear a different uniform, back home, in their hearts and minds and in their daily lives.
It is not unusual to remember that "Freedom is not free," we say, and all around us are stories of that cost that we somehow wish we did not have to pay. But we also know that until this world that we know somehow comes to an end, Man will be Man and the tumult of war will always be there.
It is not unusual, especially for those who have experienced the horrors of war, whether on the battlefield or back home, to search for hope in the midst of our memories. We long to find The Truth that will somehow help us to understand it all. But we also search for The Truth that will tell us that this pain, this cost, these sorrows that hit us like a ton of bricks more often than we care to think about or feel, that somehow it is all going to come to an end and that there will be peace.
So it is not unusual that we go to our places of worship. We turn to our Faith, whatever that may be, and we seek the face of the God of our Faith. In whatever way we worship Him we ask Him for the end to come, to have mercy on us, to give us a light in the darkness that we just cannot seem to escape.
It is not unusual for that hope to be provided. But it is also not unusual for that hope to not be provided for some. For some there is peace, temporary though it may be, and for others there is no peace, hopefully a temporary kind of no peace that ends after days, or months, or years, ending many times when the current war has ended.
We the living celebrate this time, as history has dictated, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. We celebrate our freedom, something that has been given to us by others. We remember them and as we see those who have served we say, "Thank you for your service." We say it with a smile on our face and with thankful hearts and minds. We also hope that those who hear our thanks will really know that our thanks is real and true.
In the United States we call this day Veterans Day. In other parts of the world it is celebrated as Armistice Day. In the British Commonwealth countries, of which our Canadian friends on the other side of our northern border is one, the same day is celebrated as Remembrance Day. If you also remember, our most beloved poem for this holiday, was in fact written by a Canadian, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, and is entitled, "In Flanders Fields."
It is not unusual to experience this day and then not quite remember another day that comes in a very short time on the United States calendar. We should remember it though. We have just said our Thank you to our veterans. The next holiday in the U.S. is Thanksgiving. It is that time when we all go home, those who can, those who are not serving in some distant land. Then after that is Christmas, another time when we give thanks.
It might be unusual, but then again maybe not, to remember next year, if you did not think of it this way this year, that our Season of Thanksgiving begins with this holiday at the beginning of November instead of perhaps that holiday that we love so well at the end of the month. Just a suggestion :-)
Happy Veterans Day and remember. It is never unusual at any time during the year, not just around this holiday, when you see a veteran, to say, "Thank you for your service." They always appreciate it :-)