This is my special needs son several years ago at his great grandfather’s grave, who was killed during the Korean conflict. We go every year on Memorial Day to visit his grave. His photo also hangs on the wall in our home, in full uniform. It isn’t about his accolades as a serviceman (believe me, he has great credentials), but it is about our family’s history. It is also how God created our family.
And there is prejudice.
In our country, the United States, there stands a mixed review in regards to veterans. I recently had one woman state to me that “some of those veterans have problems.” She further stated that they needed to get themselves in some sort of order. Her general contempt was so obvious that she did not really want to hear anything positive I had to say about the veterans in our life, or even about my family’s history.
While, I know that there are many homeless (and some who aren’t homeless) veterans with mental illness and alcoholism, because of what they have been through, her remarks surprised me. My father is a war veteran and I have a close friend who is a veteran, we have a female veteran in our family, and a large number of military veterans and servicemen as friends, and in our community. Further, our own church is primarily made up of men who have served, or are in service, currently, in the military.
Oh, I have met the kind of men she was referring to, but her defensiveness is misdirected towards most military men.
I think she misunderstands what she sees on television.
About this time of year, we can watch a lot of homeless veteran movies. While it is important to see the needed issues around homeless veterans, they only make up about 12% of the total homeless population (NCHV). Further, while there are an estimated 49,933 veterans who are homeless now, that is actually 33% lower than the number of homeless veterans in 2010. So, things are getting better.
But, the problem is, among the general population, people misunderstand that many veterans generally struggle to transition from military life, especially if they served in combat. To generally lump all military men as generally hostile, mentally ill and alcoholics is unfair. Many do overcome their struggles with what they witnessed, and do learn to function in society. But, unless you appreciate the military part of them, you may not appreciate them at all. Of course, the same can be said about women as well.
Some really struggle with the idea of war, really.
I saw this play out in the church I was a member of, when we entered our country’s season of war several years ago. The pastor was completely a passive resistance kind of person, and argued that we should pray against war; he further argued we really should not pick up weapons as Christians. He is not alone in his philosophy in the Church sometimes.
I thought he was totally wrong, because, well, you can’t argue with a crazy man who has a weapon, or make him see reason. While obviously my purely unadulterated opinion, the Church tends to be divided on this issue. I do think we should start with peace-making, but typically, someone with an unsound mind will usually cycle us into war, unless by the absolute grace of God, we can escape it as a nation. When faced with terrorism as a nation, we unfortunately, have to make some choices.
All opinions aside, though.
What we should really pick up first in any battle are the weapons of spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6:14-17.
Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all of the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
Obviously, we can walk in the power of our human wisdom and intuition, but if we do not learn to walk in the Spirit, then we will miss the way to battle the enemy. Allowing the timing of life’s events and the Word of God to intersect are the Way to a life of peace in the Holy Spirit.
And unfortunately, in our age, that does sometimes mean war.
So, love a soldier or a veteran today.
Many are called today to fight for our freedoms, and many will return home. It may be someone close to you, or someone you are acquainted with. They may be in the battle field, or here at home. I know it is a balance when they are suffering, but if they receive you, you may just be opening the doorway to giving them hope. All of us must choose which path we go down, when we must handle the bad stuff that life deals us, but love, and not hate, will serve all of us either as a culture or as the Body of Christ.
In this way, we can fulfill the royal law: To love your neighbor as yourself.
The Lord’s blessings to you and your family this Memorial Day~Kim