After over a decade at war, U.S. veterans are still often met with deafening and ambiguous silence. Especially in a non-election year, months can go by in the news without mention of the fact that service men and women are still dying in Afghanistan (to give credit to the Washington Post, the paper does occasionally run pictures of soldiers who have died in service). For the military men and women who have recently returned, silence makes clear that for some, America’s wars are not a subject to be talked about. Military service is not always shared comfortably with the communities that ultimately sent our soldiers out in our nation’s name.
I confess my own ambivalence. As one who has very high requirements for a “just war” and as a proponent of “just peace,” I don’t like to talk about America’s wars. It’s not something I live with. It’s not a subject that affects me on a personal level. So, last Sunday, I was silent about Veteran’s Day. It wasn’t an intentional omission or a form of passive protest. It was a careless omission.
When some people brought this to my attention, I was embarrassed. As we grow together as a minister and congregation, I hope you are learning something about me: I do not think our congregation is supposed to be silent, solitary, and stoic. Silence in the face of injustice is never an option. And sending people to war without thanking them for their service is an injustice that calls for a response.
Please accept belated and heartfelt words of thanks. A thousand thanks to the veterans, military workers and families who offer great service to the common good. A thousand thanks to the soldiers who reflect the heights of human charity and to those who have stood in the line of fire for one another, risking their lives for civilians and comrades alike. A thousand thanks to people like my father, a Vietnam veteran, who continues to show me the strength of calm resilience. A thousand thanks to those who are working to make the world a better place. A thousand thanks to soldiers who remind us of the words of Christ: the greatest love that we can have for one another is to lay down our lives for our friends.
We have an ongoing list of service women and men in our CCC Pastoral Prayer and Care booklet, available outside the office each week. We continue to hold them and their families in our thoughts and prayers. If you have any names to add, please let me know.
Yours on the journey,