Every nation, people, or culture has a story. It seems to me that in every one of those cultures there is a place of honor reserved for those whose work it is, or has been, to physically protect all the others. Such is certainly the case in the American story. From our imperfect founding, our heroes have often been warriors. This seems to be the case for most cultures which endure at all (for obvious reasons).
In a world where sin is a universal plague, it is for now necessary to have governments who serve their people by bearing the sword. These abstract considerations find form in so many men and women who serve in the military.
It’s an easy thing to forget that the liberty we enjoy is not produced in a vacuum. It was got the way it is usually got–by warriors with weapons. These men and women have frequently been people of the highest moral character, willingly sacrificing themselves for the love they have for those they would protect. Many have died.
I think it’s a peculiar and grievous kind of selfish delusion to deny gratitude to these servants.
I pray for peace with our enemies. I understand that our enemies are in need of the Gospel, just like we are. I hate violence and war. I understand that as Christians we are called to have an attitude of forgiveness and love. But the world is what it is—a place where many powerful men want to dominate others for evil.
I thank God for soldiers who stand guard at the gates, who work to allow me to live in peace and safety in my home. I don’t want to assign divinity to these servants, provoke or participate in idolatry to the nation they serve, but I want to thank them for being an instrument by which we receive so much kindness in our lives.
So thank you. To everyone who signs a paper that says you are willing to go anywhere and fight anyone so I can be with my family and be a lot less fearful than most people in history have been and many people in the world are.
We honor the memory of the fallen, and say that we won’t forget you. Saying “thank you” doesn’t feel adequate. But may we, with our lives, be a kind of tribute to the cause you laid down your lives for. I’ll love my family and neighbors, serve the vulnerable and oppressed, seek joy and deep meaning in the life I have. And I’ll remember the part you played in securing those joys, with thanks.