Remembering The Living . . . And The Dead

Veterans Day 2014

On this Tuesday, the 11th day of the 11th month of this year we once again gather to remember. We gather to remember and give thanks for all who have chosen to serve their country. We give thanks for their bravery, their commitment, and their love.

Many Americans mistakenly believe that Veterans Day is the day America sets aside to honor American military personnel who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained from combat. That’s not quite true. Memorial Day is the day set aside to honor America’s war dead.

Veterans Day honors ALL American veterans, both living and dead. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank the LIVING veterans for their service to their country. November 11 of each year is the day we have set aside to let veterans know that we acknowledge and honor the sacrifices they have made in their lives to keep our country free.

In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson designated November 11 as “Armistice Day” in order to commemorate the end of World War I — which ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (literally 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918). In 1938, Armistice Day became an official U.S. holiday. They named the holiday ‘armistice’ based on the mistaken belief that this was the ‘war to end all wars’, being an agreement between the warring nations to stop fighting.

In 1954, however, after a second war, as well as the Korean War, President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day. In the official proclamation he issued, he stated that on November 11 each year:

    let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.

But peace has not prevailed since the beginning of the United States. We have continued to have wars or conflicts, all in the name of promoting democracy and establishing peace.

Nevertheless, it is our duty and honor to acknowledge and bless those brave men and women who have served faithfully in the armed services to ensure that those of living here are safe and free. And we can pray that cooler heads will prevail and someday, we can all live in peace.

Let us pray:

Creator, Life-Giver, Source of Hope, on this day of remembering we pause to share words of thanks. Thanks for all those who have gone before us in this world to create those things that make our life easier and better, thanks for all those things that we too often take for granted, thanks for food on our tables, roofs over our heads and money in our pockets – even while we know that others struggle for the same blessings, thanks for family and friends with whom we share our lives. We also pause in the midst of our remembering to hold in our hearts, minds and souls those who struggle this day. May they know that they are not alone. May Your promised word of peace touch the disquiet and disorder in their lives.

God of peace, we pray for those who have served our nation and who laid down their lives to protect and defend our freedom. We pray for those who have fought, whose spirits and bodies are scarred by war, whose nights are haunted by memories too painful for the light of day. We pray for those who serve us now, especially for those in harm’s way. Shield them from danger and bring them home. Turn the hearts and minds of our leaders and our enemies to the work of justice and a harvest of peace.


Each of the tables have a paper with blessings and prayers for those who fought, died or were impacted by the faithful service of our military. Please join me in these prayers:

Prayer For Veterans.

God of love, peace and justice, it is your will for the world that we may live together in peace. You have promised through the prophet Isaiah that one day the swords will be beaten into ploughshares. Yet we live in a broken world, and there are times that war seems inevitable. Let us recognize with humility and sadness the tragic loss of life that comes in war. Even so, as we gather here free from persecution, we may give thanks for those that have served with courage and honor.

Please Rise: Those that are in our presence that are either in active duty or reserve duty, and the fathers, mothers, siblings, spouses and grandparents of those that are currently serving.

All: God, we praise you for those that are willing to serve. Let all Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen serve with honor, pride, and compassion. Do not let their hearts be hardened by the actions they must take. Strengthen their families. Keep them surrounded in your love and peace.

Please Rise: Those that are in our presence that have served in the military in the past.

All: God, we praise you for those that have served in the military. We thank you for those that put the welfare of others ahead of their own safety. Let us all be inspired by their self-sacrifice in service to those who needed protection.

Please Rise: Those that are in our presence who have lost a loved one in war.

All: God, we praise you for those that have made the ultimate sacrifice. We ask that you comfort those that still feel the pain of their loss. Keep us mindful that you have promised to comfort those that mourn.

Please Rise: Those who have gathered in your name in safety because of the sacrifices of others.

All: God, we praise you for granting us these freedoms. Let us honor those who have served by working for peace. Let us never forget those that have served, and let us never let go of your promise of peace.

Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 9 November 2014

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