Our veterans have served, and continue to serve after leaving the military; they deserve our support and respect every day.
Inspired by Psalm 144
interpreted by Deborah
Psalm 144 was traditionally attributed to David, said to have been composed while he was fighting against Saul. It is a prayer that God bring success to those in battle, and bestow a glorious future upon God’s people.
Praise the Lord, my rock,
who trains my hands for war,
and my fingers for battle;
my stronghold and my shield,
my sustainer and my deliverer
in whom I take refuge,
who subdues the wicked
and brings chaos and destruction to an end.
O Lord, what are human beings
that You care for them,
that You give them
a moment’s consideration?
They are like a shout, a sigh, a cry
carried off by the wind;
raised up and gone in an instant.
Cleve the heavens, O Lord, and come down;
set the mountains aflame with Your touch;
send forth shafts of lightning
and scatter the enemy;
command Your heavenly host to rout them.
Let Your shield be ever before me,
protect me from the violent horde,
from those who seek my life;
the concealed, the camouflaged,
the cunning and the conniving
who strike with wicked fist.
Unleash the dogs of war
against my adversaries,
turn their weapons against them,
shatter their battlements,
and break their will to fight.
I will sing a new song to You, Lord;
a song that only I can sing,
a song from my heart:
the song of my life.
I will praise You,
the One who gives victory to armies,
successful strategies to generals;
the One who rescues His servants.
From the deadly wound save me;
deliver me from cruel blows,
stealth and deceit,
and all enemies,
foreign and domestic.
May our sons be
sturdy and resilient as olive trees,
our daughters as strong and beautiful
as the corner pillars upholding a palace.
May our crops be abundant,
providing plentiful food for us
and much fodder for our animals;
may our herds increase by thousands,
thousands of thousands,
and grow healthy and sleek
on the rich pastures of our fields.
May there be
no invasion of our nation,
no exile of our people,
and no distress in our streets.
Blessed are the people
of whom this is true;
blessed are the people
whose God is the Lord.
Veterans Day is like Christmas: it happens only once a year. Regrettably, it isn’t really like Christmas, with multiple weeks’ ramp-up, endless advertising, and ceaseless promotion. Instead — within a single twenty-four hour span, there are a few five minute Special Reports at the tail end of newscasts, some admirable public displays of honor and respect, the inevitable Veterans Day sales ….
Then it is over; the banks reopen, mail service is resumed, the politicians scuttle back to their offices. The day vanishes like a shout, a cry, a sigh; not even an echo remaining. Everything returns to normal: our veterans ignored, abandoned; their experiences discounted, their knowledge and wisdom disregarded, their years of service dismissed as unimportant, insignificant.
Originating as a commemoration of the end of World War I, Armistice Day, as it was known, was in honor of those who fought “to end all wars.” It isn’t about the battles, but about those with the commitment to go forth in defense of the principles or people they believe to be at risk; the ultimate ideal (and, like all ideals, is a journey) is peace and security. Whatever your stance on war or national policies, those who serve are worthy of our respect. A little-known fact is that a number of our military personnel provide health care and other support services for the people of the regions in which they are stationed. It isn't all about warfare.
Our veterans have served — often in extremely dangerous situations and hostile environments — far from home, with few comforts and minimal privacy, limited contact with family, on-call and on-alert 24/7. It is a demanding career (nothing like our “day jobs”) requiring discipline, courage, physical strength and emotional integrity.
After their service is ended, the return to civilian life can be challenging. The loss of structure, changed responsibilities, the absence of familiar camaraderie and shared experiences, the routines of family and work — even the silence of a quiet night — can be like stepping into another world: familiar and yet foreign. To say it is “an adjustment” is an understatement.
The process of adjustment — what is called “reintegration” — can take months or more and may never be complete, depending on the individual and the circumstances. Some carry physical disabilities that will affect them for the rest of their lives, and many cope with PTSD with varying degrees of success.
Tragically, there are some for whom the transition to civilian life is a bridge too far: the walking wounded who self medicate with illicit drugs and alcohol, squatting in homeless encampments, living “wild” in the far country, or eking out an existence on the edges of society. These are our “forgotten men” &(and women); that they have been abandoned on the home front is a national disgrace.
The vast majority of our veterans “reintegrate” successfully, their quiet victories over lingering anxieties and troubling memories unheralded as they cope with challenges and complications in work, education, and family life, participate in religious and community organizations, and simply carry on.
These are our “unsung heroes” who continue to serve in various ways — particularly in the largely unrecognized fact of the strength and integrity they carry with them. Self-confident and courageous, with nothing to “prove,” veterans often bring calm to potentially volatile situations and are far more likely to stop a fight than to start one. They are also, generally, very good at ending one.
All gave some, some gave all; all deserve our respect and support.
Spirit of peace, descend upon us;
God of lovingkindness,
fill our hearts with compassion;
Lord of radiant light,
heal our hurts,
and lead us to eternal joy.
The Lord be with you,
Pray for all who have served,
and pray for those who have the authority to deploy our troops.
What can you do to help veterans?
On the services the USO provides to military personnel and their families during deployment and afterwards, go here.