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17 March 2009

Honoring Those Who Serve

The "official" end of World War I was marked June 28, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles at the Palace of Versailles. The fighting ended, however, some seven months earlier when an armistice went into effect between Germany and the Allies on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day in November 1919, citing "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…" (written 11 Nov 2008)

I did not grow up in a military household; my daddy's enlistment in the Army ended before I was born. Patriotism and pride of country, however, were (and still are) very strong. I was raised to believe that you honor the flag by standing quietly, hand over your heart, and reciting the pledge. Way back when I was in elementary school, we recited the pledge every morning before starting our school day! Veterans and service members were never spoken of with any type of disrespect. Service to country was looked upon as something to be proud of! While neither my siblings nor myself served in the armed forces, we had seven uncles that did. Some served one or two hitches, four retired (three US Army, one US Navy). Today I am a proud Army mama -- my oldest daughter Victoria is currently serving in Baghdad, active duty United States Army.

Why celebrate today? The words in the 1926 resolution of the US Congress may make things a little clearer: "Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; ..." There is more, but this last part struck a chord. Reread the beginning of this paragraph. " ... it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer". Is that not still so? Not just today, but every day! Today, we pray to give thanks for those who have served to protect and defend our freedom ... for those still serving, at home or abroad ... and for those who died to defend us. What is the purpose of Veterans Day? A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

When you drive or walk down the streets today and see the American flag flying, thank a veteran ... those who are still serving, and those who have served. When you pin the flag to your lapel, fly the flag in your yard or at your place of employment: thank a veteran. For the freedoms some take for granted: thank a veteran.

For the more than 145000 American troops currently serving in Iraq, and the total US combined troop strength of more than 1.4 million, I offer my utmost gratitude. I never take for granted the freedoms I hold dear ... because you offer your life every single day. I have seen often on emails a quote that reads "only two forces have ever given their life for you ... Jesus Christ, and the American military." The military member died so that we may enjoy freedom, Jesus so that we may enjoy eternal life.

SPC Victoria Magoun ... thank you for your service and your devotion to duty ... I am humbled by your sacrifice and so very proud of your accomplishments! AD2 Robert Beadle ... thank you for the service you gave, the patriotism and pride you promote daily, and your constant love and support.

Jesus, thank you for giving your life for my unworthy one. Help me to give the best of myself each day, to honor you, and to live as you would have me do.

"But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD."~Jonah 2:9NIV

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