Thank you, Veterans, for your service, generosity, and willingness to serve, protect and defend this great nation of people!
I had the privilege of growing up on military bases as my father served in the military. My wife and I were full of pride as we witnessed our middle son swear into the Air Force. That was a special day as we witnessed about two dozen young people take the oath and make similar commitments to serve in the other branches of the military. There is no calling greater than to serve.
I have conducted hundreds of funerals and many were veterans who were friends and acquaintances. With every funeral for a military servant, I think of what Paul wrote in his letter to the Christians in Rome, “Pay to all what is owed to them … respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (Romans 13:7).
I remember Doyle, who, grew up in Earle, first serving in the Army and assigned to “cleaning up” one of two cities bombed in Japan at the end of WW II. He came home only to realize that “pickin cotton” had no future so he enlisted in the Navy and retiring from active service. Doyle convinced my wife to eat a mixture of scrambled eggs with squirrel brains mixed in. He said it was a custom in his family to eat on Christmas morning. I did not partake in this custom! I miss my friend and his wife, Sue.
Eddie served in Vietnam with the U. S. Army. Drawing his assignment as a ‘point man’ on patrol and living to tell of the firefights. God saved Eddie twice. First on the battlefield and then spiritually. Eddie wrote of his life and experienced in Vietnam in a book. He has been such an encouragement to me over the years. Thank you, Eddie!
Richard, flew in Vietnam, came home safely with a few “close encounters,” and then flew for FedEx. Richard is the kind of man changed by God. Richard did all he could to build the Kingdom of God. He lost a finger while on a mission trip to Mexico – after that, I enjoyed watching him play his harmonica as part of the church praise team with part of his finger missing. He was an encourager and loved people unconditionally. He also wished he had given his life and heart to Jesus years before he did.
Joe died a few years ago, he served in two branches of the military. He was funny, told great stories of his family from the “Tex/Mex” area and growing up poor as dirt. His accent was heavy but his humor and smile were enormous. When he laughed his eyes closed shut, it was fun to laugh with Joe.
My friend Manual lived in Earle. He drove me around Earle giving me my initial history lesson of Earle when I moved there to pastor a church. Manual liked to collect things. In preparation for Manual’s funeral, I researched his service during the Vietnam War and discovered a few of his service friends. Manual was kind and generous. I always looked forward to seeing him. A good man and friend.
James served in the Korean War and he also served the local churches he attended. When I visited him, all I did was drink his coffee and listen to him. He was a very tall, thin and a soft-spoken man but what a servant he was. My friend “Cotton” was short, kind, and generous too. Cotton trained James in the Army. Both men loved their families, church, and country. I miss these two and so many other veterans.
George served in the war for Vietnam; he gave me a study Bible that I still use. He enjoyed riding his motorcycle and loves his family. He carries wounds (as do all who served in war) in his heart and mind. A good man he is and I enjoy his friendship and laughter.
Staff Sergeant Adams (my dad) of the 5th RCT, 24th Infantry Division, U.S. Army, served in the Korean War. Surviving Korea, he entered into service in the Air Force. He always worked hard and had more than one job because raising a family on an enlisted man’s pay was no easy task – still is not. What a national shame that many military families are on food stamps or other government relief because their pay is low.
When I asked my dad for a dollar and he would give me two – he always gave more than he was asked. Veterans give more than what they are asked for. The book I cherish the most is a book about the Korean War with my dad’s handwritten comments indicating where he was and what happened to his unit in the frozen Chosin Reservoir battle. I cannot live up to the ideals I have of my father, his generosity and kindness for others and that is okay. But if I can be half of what he is I will have a successful life.
I conducted the funeral for a Japanese woman who survived WWII and the bombing of her country, who later moved to America. Her story was fascinating and I am forever thankful for her family allowing me the honor of serving them in a time of need.
Connecting her story to that of so many veterans of WWII, Korea and Vietnam has proven to me that no matter where one is from, no matter the color, education, background, somehow and in many ways, we are all interrelated. We are all cut from the same cloth – human, flesh, and blood, we have the same struggles and dreams. We all have the same hope – Jesus Christ.
This Friday, remember our Veterans as we remember and honor for their service, sacrifices and duty. Veterans Day has been designated to honor those men and women who have served in war and peacetime. Do not let this special day pass without acknowledging Veterans in some very real way.
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