“Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Two days out of the year we set aside as a nation to especially commemorate those who made themselves available to make the ultimate sacrifice. Memorial Day is for those who did, today is for those who never had to.
But those who avoided death did not avoid sacrifice. Today, Veterans Day, is for those who live, frequently having sacrificed their physical, mental, and emotional well-being for us.
They live, but they live with flashbacks, lingering, nagging injuries, nightmares, survivor’s guilt (why did I live, but my buddy was killed right next to me?), difficulty in relationships and jobs that the other problems cause, and so many other crosses that cannot be seen and they frequently cannot bear to share.
But they also live with the honor of having served a cause greater than themselves and testing themselves in some of the harshest of circumstances. They were an example of dedication and perseverance to those who did not serve. They were “we few, we happy few, we band of brothers,” who can “stand a tip-toe” when days like today come around.
I commend to you the poem, “Merry Christmas, My Friend:”
Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster & stone.
I had come down the chimney, with presents to give
and to see just who in this home did live
As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.
With medals and badges, awards of all kind,
a sobering thought soon came to my mind.
For this house was different, unlike any I’d seen.
This was the home of a U.S. Marine.
I’d heard stories about them, I had to see more,
so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.
(Read the rest. I defy you to keep a dry eye.)
We had a ceremony here on campus a short while ago to honor all of our veterans, but especially one who was killed in action in Vietnam whose fraternity brothers wanted to honor him today. Our ROTC served as color guard, one of our campus ministers, Father Vince Inghilterra, a retired U.S. Army colonel who spent more than three decades as an Army chaplain, gave some stirring remarks which I hope to share, Father Terence Henry, TOR, University president made some remarks and recited the immortal poem “In Flanders Field,” a wreath was laid at a tree the deceased alumnus had planted before he shipped to Vietnam, and his fraternity brothers spoke of him glowingly.
There is video, but it is not yet edited and ready for public consumption. When it is, I shall share it.
Thank you to all of our veterans. May God bless you and heal you, and help you to grow in His love through the sacrifices you have made and the sufferings you have endured for us all.