On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as “the Great War.” Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.
Today is that day--Veterans Day.
My grandmother, my mother's mother, received a poem from her son, my uncle, while he was fighting for freedom on the other side of the world.
Her response reflects the heart of many moms--and dads-- whose sons and daughters continue to carry the torch of freedom---for America.
America honors our veterans today.
My Uncle Laurel returned home safely from his deployment----many of his Army buddies did not.
He lived out his life in Yakima and the Yakima Valley in Central Washington. He died at age 104 and is buried in a Yakima cemetery near other family members.
While on the battlefield Laurel wrote a letter to his mother and structured it in rough poem form. He told her about the hell on Earth he and others were experiencing. He asked her to pray for him and his fellow soldiers.
My grandmother's response most certainly reflects the heart and spirit of most all mothers---and the heart of a grateful nation toward all who have, and do serve our great country.
A Mother's Vision
Dear Son, With Pride your poem I read, And I sensed plain truth in the words that you said.
Tho' the bullets that are flying are far away, Some Mother's boy will have to pay---with his life-blood for freedom that we might live---The supreme Sacrifice he will give.
And somehow I--as I read those lines so true, I'm wondering if we are doing all we can do---For these dear boys who face the "Call" leaving families and sweethearts, giving their all.
And I pondered that question within my heart, And I said--"Dear God, help me do my part---on that battlefield so far away. Help me Oh' God to always pray for the Laddies out there who mean to stand, 'til freedom reigns on sea and land.
Then I heard a Voice, So soft and low---"Mothers", it said, "you too can go, to the Battle field beyond the Seas---But Remember your place will be on your knees, Its not by Power, Its not by Might, Its the Spirit of Prayer that will win this Fight!
A Purple Heart you may never wear, But Hearts of Gold are fighting there---who need your prayers and courage too, that they might win and come back to you.
I bowed my head, I vowed anew, whatever the cost I will be true to God the Father, God the Son, And the millions of fighting Boys as One, And send a Prayer as a shaft of light, to those Boys---through the long dark night---And make it so real that every boy can feel---A Nail Scarred Hand placed in his own---A presence that is leading and guiding them home.
Another American parent, in a different place, also bowed his head and asked the nation to join him in prayer for those who served our country:
My Fellow Americans:
Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.
And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:
Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest -- until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.
For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.
Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.
And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them -- help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.
Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.
Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.
And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.
And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.
With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.
Thy will be done, Almighty God.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt - June 6, 1944