On the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour in 1918, World War 1 ended. It was to be the war to end all wars. A celebration of all who fought then began on November 11, 1938.
Then World War II broke out.
We can’t seem to avoid war.
Shortly after World War II a soldier named Raymond Weeks organized a parade and celebration to honor all veterans who had fought in all wars for our country. A national thank you for serving selflessly for those who fought for us and our freedoms. In 1978, Congress identified November 11 as the day of celebration for all those who had served our country and had fought on our behalf.
President Dwight Eisenhower, a veteran himself, said in a speech on Veterans Day:
“…it is well for us to pause, to acknowledge our debt to those who paid so large a share of freedom’s price. As we stand here in grateful remembrance of the veterans’ contributions we renew our conviction of individual responsibility to live in ways that support the eternal truths upon which our Nation is founded, and from which flows all its strength and all its greatness.”
His presidency saw the end of the Korean War, which followed closely on the heels of World War II. He understood the cost of leading a country through challenging times.
We celebrate all those who fought for our country in all the wars and battles we’ve been part of. There are very few veterans left from World War II and the Korean War, and a diminishing number from the Viet Nam War–they and all those since are those who willingly fought for hope and freedom that they felt was worth their effort and sacrifice.
War is a grim reminder of what we’ve lost more than what we’ve gained. We hope for the day when wisdom and compassion will triumph over the strong and unreasoning so that conflict won’t always be a focus for people.
War costs. Lives are lost and families are destroyed. The ripple effects of fear are the lingering injuries of those wounded, who have seen and experienced more pain than we can imagine.
This side of heaven we will constantly be engaged in battle. Not always a war of physical weapons, but one of spiritual powers and darkness that seek to destroy all the good God does. There is a battle waging daily for the souls of people, with the devil fighting to demolish the hope we have in Jesus, seeking to overcome the world with darkness, dread, and death. His insidious corruption is often missed by many people.
God prepares us to be ready for the battle.
“Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11
At a time when we need to be thanking our veterans for fighting for our rights and freedoms, we need to be aware of the war waged against our hope daily. All of us are in it, whether we’re aware of it or not.
But we have a Saviour who is already the Victor, who fights for us in the darkest of times.
He celebrates those who know Him as His warriors.
That’s what we are.