Veterans Day falls on Sunday, November 11th this year, so in worship we will take the opportunity to thank our veterans for their service. It is also the 100thanniversary of the Armistice following World War I. I can only imagine how happy that day was, as the free world rejoiced that the Great War was over. The Congressional Act that made November 11th each year a legal holiday stated that it was to be “…a day dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.” On June 1, 1954, Congress amended the bill replacing the word ‘Armistice’ with ‘Veterans’. It is a day to celebrate all United States veterans.
My father Robert L. Zimmerman was veteran, having served in the U.S. Coast Guard during WW II. He was actually on a troop ship on his way to Okinawa, Japan when I was born on September 18, 1945, right after the war ended. His grandson, my brother’s son Nicolai Zimmerman, served two tours of duty as a Sergeant in U.S. Army in Afghanistan and Iraq. I remember him telling me after he came home safely, “Aunt Candy, I kept the cross you sent me in my helmet the whole time.”
I have had many W.W. II and Viet Nam veterans in the congregations I’ve served. I have been amazed at the stories they’ve shared and the experiences they’d endured. Most of all, I was in awe of the courage and adaptability they’d shown in the face of such perilous circumstances. Many had been farm boys or men from small towns who had never traveled far from home, let alone to foreign countries in life and death situations. Quite a few of them spoke of their faith in God that sustained them in the worst of times.
They were heroes, disguised as faithful members of the church. Two of them were: LeRoy who slowly walked his old, beloved dog daily, and thoughtfully insisted on giving me $20 to have lunch with my daughter when I visited her in CA. He had served in the islands of Guam where there were terrible privations. And Don, who was only eighteen when he served as a gunner in the Army tank that rammed down the gate of a German concentration camp, then eventually came home to serve as president of our congregation.
And so, in memory and love for veterans known and unknown I share with you this prayer.
We ask for blessings on all those who have served our country in the armed forces,
We ask for healing for the veterans who have been wounded in body and soul in conflicts around the globe.
We pray especially for the young men and women, who are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan with injured bodies and traumatized spirits.
Bring solace to them, O Lord. May we pray for them when they cannot pray.
We ask for an end to wars and the dawning of a new era of peace as a way to honor all the veterans of past wars.
Give us all the creative vision to see a world which, grown weary with fighting, moves to affirm the precious life of every human being and so moves beyond war.
Hear our prayer, O Prince of Peace. Hear our prayer. Amen.
In Christ Love!
Pastor Candy Thomas
Christ Congregational United Church of Christ