This day on which we remember all those who have served and are now serving our country in the armed forces has a complicated history. While I am not a student of the intricacies of our country’s history in wartimes, and did not live through the Great Wars ( WWI and WWII), I am the daughter of a WWII veteran whose stories were never about the war itself but always about the brotherhood that existed during the war and remained vivid throughout the rest of his life. There was never any talk about the tragedies of those days or what we now know as post-traumatic stress. The women who served during these wars were known mostly as nurses whose service was somewhat in the background – but so essential to the troops.
Things began to change after that. Beginning with the “police action” in Korea and brought to the forefront in Vietnam, questions of “Why are we there??” surfaced and politicization in new ways caused polarization as we wondered – and still do – about our participation in conflicts on the other side of the world. We have learned the downside of being a world power, and those making the decisions about that participation are not often those who are sent to serve.
As we face the repercussions of war in the modern world, we are called to support those who serve, especially those who have been physically, mentally or spiritually damaged in the process of serving. Whether or not we support the premise of the events, we need to see veterans as individuals serving our country and see to their needs going forward.
And we need to pray for veterans and their families who have been damaged by war. Regardless of our politics, we can all pray as individuals for individuals and families who will never be the same. Yes, that is something we all can do, and that is a debt we owe.