Today is Veteran’s Day. It is the day when we remember those who placed themselves in harm’s way so that we will be safe from evil and tyranny.
In a culture consumed with self, this irony confronts us each November 11th. Sacrifice seems foreign to today’s world. Yet people whom we do not know have given and are prepared to give their lives for us.
Throughout human history, we know the stories of those who have sacrificed so that good will prevail. In Psalm 8 we read that God crowned man, his creature, with glory and honor. Even, amidst the rubble of sin, humans retain a level of the dignity with which we were originally created. The image of God, though horribly tarnished still shines. Perhaps, there is no better example of the nobility of man as creature than those who offer their lives for those who cannot fight. Men and women serve in the military and in law enforcement willingly make themselves targets for those who would do evil.
The picture at the top of this post drives this point home for me. It is a photo of the US Navy Ship LST 459. In this photo the ship is just minutes from landing on the beach in the invasion of Japanese-held Leyte in the Philippines in World War II. The ship was loaded with Marines and artillery that would roll off of the ship and into battle. My father served as captain of this vessel. His ship was attacked by artillery fire from shore, by strafing runs from aircraft and even by Japanese suicide bombers. He and the crew survived, while many others did not.
In God’s providence, Dad lived to fight again, to come home to his wife and become the father of 4 sons. But as he sailed towards the beach, he had no assurance that he would live through the day. Yet, he and countless others like him knowingly and willingly sailed into harm’s way because they believed it was the right thing to do.
Be thankful for our veterans this day, both those who have fallen and for those who remain. No, they are not perfect people. But they show us the nature of sacrifice; the selfless sacrifice most perfectly modeled by Christ.
Praise God and hold in high honor those who go into harm’s way.