World War I, “The Great War”, officially ended on June 28, 1919 outside the town of Versailles, France when the Treaty of Versailles was signed. The actual fighting of the war had ceased seven months earlier when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” The following year, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.” Source
History means so much more to me now than when I was a student learning it. Over the years, I have come to appreciate the importance of understanding our past as it shapes us into who we are today and into our tomorrow. I love that November 11th has significance. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month is when the fighting stopped. Can you imagine the angels in Heaven rejoicing? I believe they were just like I believe they rejoice when we stop and pay respect to those who have served this great country then and now. Many of you attended programs in schools and churches across our nation yesterday. If it was anything like the one our daughter participated in, there was a Presentation and Posting of the Colors, reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, singing of The Star Spangled Banner, a moment of silence followed by a 21-gun salute and a POW/MIA Remembrance. Chill bumps ran up my body as each shot went off and I remembered those fallen. Veterans filled the gymnasium and kleenex were passed between grandmother and mother as they shed tears hearing the sweet voices and students honoring our Veterans. Ashley had the honor of introducing her peers that shared their personal essay of what Veteran’s Day means to them. One boy wrote that his grandfather was his hero as he fought in Vietnam and had died only two years ago. Now he says every time he hears the Pledge of Allegiance and goes to church he remembers his grandfather fondly. Another boy wrote of his own dad who is active in the Coast Guard and pilot, and when he grows up he wants to be just like him. Please pass the tissue…insert tears! Guest Speaker, Gunnery Sergeant Samuel Castro, shared words that inspired all of us to exude honor, courage and commitment just like those who serve.
The conclusion of the ceremony was my favorite as they invited the Veterans to come to the center of the gym as they sang, “Thank you, Soldiers” and passed out homemade gifts the students crafted in class. It was a beautiful ceremony that certainly was solemn and respectful and honored our Veterans well. It inspired me to see the student’s lead the program themselves. Each student that spoke would pause before speaking as they waited for complete silence from their peers in the audience. For a moment in time even during this program, bickering and arguing had stopped. As I observed and thought about the significance of this day I began to think about how each of us has a role to play when it comes to continuing the pride of this great nation that so many fought and paid the ultimate price. What would our world look like if each of us chose to treat each other with HONOR? What if we all had the COURAGE to try to bring peace instead of war? What if we made the COMMITMENT to be our own soldier fighting against the wars in our life?
“Do not repay evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do NOT be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:17-21
God’s word never ceases to speak. When we hear it, it causes us to respond either in obedience or rebellion. These verses call us to be at peace as far as it depends on US, to not repay evil for evil and to love our enemies. What a challenge for us all but oh the rejoicing in Heaven when we do it. I hope you too will find the honor, courage and commitment to be a mighty soldier willing to fight for peace! Thank YOU to all of our Veterans including my own dad who fought in the Vietnam War and served in the US Army. He will always be one of my heroes. I love you dad! #gloryup