Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Perspective on veterans day

Today is Veterans Day in the United States and some other parts of the world. My wife has the day off of work. As a Christian, and somewhat of a pacifist, this day has always been one of mixed feelings for me. Not that I have anything against veterans - my dad fought in the Korean Conflict, and I have known and love many war veterans. I am not opposed to veterans, but I am not in favor of war. However, I am not sure my opinion on this day has always been correct.

President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed an "Armistice Day" for November 11, 1919 to celebrate the end of World War I. Major hostilities of this war were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice. According to Wikipedia, "an armistice is a situation in a war where the warring parties agree to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, but may be just a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace. It is derived from the Latin arma, meaning weapons and statium, meaning a stopping." It was in 1954 that President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the name from "Armistice Day" to "Veterans Day" to include all veterans of war, not just those from World War I.

You know, I have no problem with the original intent of Veterans/Armistice Day. To me it was a celebration of peace much more than war - and that is a good thing. I have never understood how people can be opposed to those who desire peace. And I can even understand those wars which were about justice issues and protecting innocent lives. I can respect people who fight for such things even if I am opposed to the use of violence to do so.

What I find unacceptable are those wars that are more about money or political power than actually protecting certain basic human freedoms. And I am not just a little offended by those who insist that the American military has in any way, shape, or form preserved my right to be a practicing Christian. I actually had someone tell me to my face once that the only reason I have a job as a Christian pastor is because of the U.S. military. Um, I'm not sure how they account for Christians in other countries. In my opinion there has been only one war fought for my faith, and that was won by the complete surrender of my Lord and Savior. So please spare me the rhetoric that Christ needs our guns for religious freedom. If my faith is determined by whether my government says I can practice it or not, then I'm not sure it is a Christ-centered faith.

At any rate, I pray for God's blessing on all veterans today, and may the peace of Christ be with us all. I found this ending to an anonymous prayer and thought it nice as well:
Give us all the creative vision to see a world which, grown weary with fighting,
Moves to affirming the life of every human being and so moves beyond war.
Hear our prayer, O Prince of Peace, hear our prayer.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Very well put, Dan. I concur completely.