Today is Veteran's Day.
It's a day on which we thank and honor those who have served---and do serve in our military.
The US Census Bureau reports that there are 21.8 million vets in our country today.
Over 1.3 million of those served in both Gulf War eras, 211,000 in both the Korean War and Vietnam era and 147,000 in World War II and Korea.
There were 49,500 who served in both the Vietnam War and both Gulf War eras and 54,000 who served during the Korean War, Vietnam War and World War II.
Does America understand the great price that has been paid, and is being paid to create and sustain our freedom?
I hope so.
And what does the Bible say about war?
As time moves on, memories can grow dim. Today is about remembering and honoring.
Every war has its pivotal moments and famous battles and all those who participated did so by putting their life on the line for their country. And for freedom and the next generation.
From our Revolutionary War to the present day war on terrorism, there are elements that are the same---a hunger for freedom, and a willingness to fight for it and preserve it.
However by most all accounts, the invasion at Normandy was a turning point in World History.
While history records it and a few remain who were eye witnesses and participants, it was President Reagan who most properly illuminated it and explained it in his speech at Normandy on the 40th anniversary of what we know as "D-Day."
On the spot where the allied soldiers had stormed ashore to liberate Europe from the NAZIS, President Reagan defined the moment and the meaning of that historic, liberating event, bringing clarity for those generations that have followed.
This is an excerpt from his speech:
We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but 40 years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.
The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers -- the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machineguns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After 2 days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms.
Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.
These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.”
President Dwight Eisenhower once said; "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."
Most of us would agree.
Yet until Christ rules and reigns on this earth---He Himself has said there will be wars and rumors of wars.
The fallen nature of man dictates it.
Candice Lanier has pointed out that Solomon famously wrote, "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven...a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace."
The Bible speaks to the issue of war, because there is a time for war.
"Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. He is my loving God and my fortress, my strong hold and my deliverer, my shield in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me."
The Bible also speaks to a proper mind set and spiritual posture when going to war.
"When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, will be with you."
God has been with you in the past, and he will be with you now. He is faithful, the prophet writes.
As you enter the battle, "The priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say 'Hear Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory."
How many times have we heard our soldiers reflect on how their faith in God and in His Word sustained them through the toils and snares in the heat of battle?
These and other verses presuppose that God is indeed the Lord, or at least recognized. Sadly our military is systematically removing freedom of religious expression from the very people who are fighting and dying to preserve it.
We honor those who have served and those presently serving today. From our hearts we say, "Thank you" and "God bless you."
Yours is a noble and just cause.
It was Jesus Christ Himself who said, "Greater love has no man than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."
Be Blessed. Be Free.