Today is Veterans Day, and so this letter is a word of thanks to all who have served in our United States Military Service. The service provided by our veterans is selfless. It reflects the commitment to country that has been a vital part of the building of the nation in which we live.
I had an uncle who was a prisoner of war during World War II. He marched across Italy and Germany for months, often with holes in his shoes and without food for a very long time. He finally began to share stories of this experience when he was well into his 80s. Living past 90 years old, Uncle J.C. held the story of his imprisonment for decades until his grandchildren, my cousins, finally asked him to share it for a school project. When he shared it with me, I was amazed at his ability to survive, the way he coped with that experience for the rest of his life, and the way he understood it not as something that made him better than anyone else but as something that helped him understand the suffering and plight of other people and nations. He didn’t want to celebrate it; he wanted to learn from it. And I believe that he did.
So, this week’s letter is a letter of gratitude to service people everywhere who have learned from what they have experienced in our military service. To the veterans who are now engineers, police officers, attorneys, members of congress, others in political office, teachers, doctors, and all the others who have served, learned, been changed, and survived: we respect you and thank God for the gifts you give to the world. And, we share the following prayers written by a few in our congregation who have served and have gained insight from their time in service. I encourage you to use these prayers to pray for those on active duty now around the world. Let them continue to teach you about the experience of those who know things about humanity and the world that we who have not been in military service can never know. Let them inspire you, as they have me, to pray for a more peace-filled world for all the generations to come.
Bob Mell, Lieutenant
Army Air Corps
World War II
I’d like to thank you this day for my longevity (89 years old and still maneuvering). Let me also thank you for the wonderful Christian parents who saw to it that I always got to Sunday School and church each week, and the rule was that if you are sick enough to stay home from Church, you are sick enough for a dose of castor oil.
We thank you so much for watching over our entire family during WWII. My brothers and I all entered different services—Marine Corps, Army Air Corps, Navy, and (later Coast Guard). I recall talking to you a great deal during those days and you were helpful and reassuring. We all were able to return unscathed. Thanks to your Love, we all survived the storm.
Just 6 days after returning from my 58 missions in Europe, thanks to you, I married the girl of my dreams, Jane Kreiling, who I dated in High School. We married in Glenn Memorial Methodist Church and a few years later had two fine daughters. What a great marriage of 63 years… until Jane was called to Heaven. Thanks, Lord, for such a lovely marriage.
Finally, let me thank you and praise you for MUSIC. Both of my parents were musically inclined. Fortunately, thanks to you, I inherited their talent and have enjoyed singing in choirs and playing in orchestras for over 50 years.
I thank you and praise you for all you have done for me and my family for all these years. AMEN
8th Air Force, 1st Division
401st BG-615th & 614th Bomb Squad
World War II
Our Heavenly Father,
Accept our thanks for these individuals and what they are doing. We pray to God that what we did during WWII had a long-term effect and, although we felt strongly about the Marines and otherwise, we in fact had more losses than U.S. Marines during WWII with about 350,000 people, many of whom were ground crews. We ask you, our Lord, to continue to bless us as we live our lives today. Thank you.
Earl Witcher, Major
227th Assault Helicopter Battalion,
1st Air Cavalry Division, U.S. Army
Lord of the Universe, God of the World, Creator of all that was, and is, and still to be, we beseech you, if it be your will, that all wars cease and that all engaged therein, friend and foe alike, be returned to their homes and loved ones to rest in peace eternal.
In Christ’s holy name we pray. Amen.
Rear Admiral, Civil Engineer Corps, U.S. Navy (ret)
Desert Shield/Desert Storm
Dear Lord, your command is over all and your love never fails. We ask your blessings upon each of us as we seek to do your will. We give thanks to you for those who have served this great nation, and in so doing sought to be part of something bigger than themselves in service to you. We ask your mercies on those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. And we ask your blessings on those young men and women who, as we pray, are in harms way; give them peace and confidence, and bring them home safely. We ask your guidance for all of us, but especially for our leaders. Give them discernment, understanding and knowledge so they may follow your Divine Will to lead us on paths of peace. Guide us with the light of truth, and keep before us the life of Him by whose example and help we trust to obtain the answers to our prayers, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Eric Smith, Sgt.
3rd Btl., 10th Marines
I ask to be a loom in the service of peace.
Let voices weave through me,
whether barbed with the burrs and seeds of pain,
or carefully carded and spun with light.
Let me bring forth
a tapestry, blanket,
Where there is unraveling,
let me remember to knit.
If I meet the flash and stab of fire,
let me be rebuilt from fresh wood.
In a state of green,
let me remember the cinder.
In a state of rubble, let me remember the weave.
(from Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace, edited by Maxine Hong Kingston)
[kafiyah (or keffiyeh): traditional Arab headdress; tallit:Jewish prayer shawl]