Veteran Day Thanks
November 11, 2018

Pastor Dennis Phillips
First Baptist Church of Rockledge
Rockledge, Florida

There are some strong ironies in the lives of military personnel.

First, military personnel love America, yet they spend long weeks, months and years away from our country.

To today’s military and especially those in our fellowship who served, I say thank you for the time you gave away from your homes, your hometowns, and your families to serve on deployment. You willingly removed yourself away from the safety and security of a hometown and country to travel to unfamiliar, even dangerous settings to protect the freedoms we all hold dear.

You loved your homes, yet you were willing to spend time in tents, in temporary barracks, and in holds of ships so we might continue to live in our homes in safety and security. I say thank you for giving up ease and comfort and convenience, even replacing them with danger and harm so we could live in freedom.

While teaching school, I taught some World Cultures Classes for a few years. In one of our textbooks, there was a picture of an American serviceman returning home from a deployment, and the first thing he did after stepping off the plane, was kneel down and kiss the ground because he was so thankful to be home.

I will never forget the reactions of some of my students, There were expressions like, “Ooh, yuck,” and “Why did he do that?” and then, “That’s so stupid.” They did not understand. In a very real sense, I do not understand. We cannot understand if we did not experience it, but we can say thank you to those who did.

Second, military personnel love freedom, yet they sacrifice their own so others can experience it.

They become in some ways, nameless and faceless parts of a platoon or squadron, and yet I would say that in those uniforms that all look alike, in those lines of formation where individuality is lost, they are still individual men and women who make individual and personal sacrifices so we can enjoy person freedom.

I say thank you for giving yourself to military duty for the sake of our country and the personal freedoms we now have because you did.

It is the veteran, not the preacher, who protects our freedom of religion.
It is the veteran, not the reporter, who protects our freedom of the press.
It is the veteran, not the poet, who protects our freedom of speech.
It is the veteran, not the campus organizer, who protects out freedom to assemble.
It is the veteran, not the lawyer, who protects our right to a fair trial.
It is the veteran, not the politician, who protects our right to vote.

Third, the strongest irony of all is how those in our military value life, yet for some that value called for them to bravely give up their lives in service of their country.

To the families here this morning and elsewhere, of those who did not return from that deployment of duty, whether it was in recent years, or decades past, I say thank you for the sacrifice they made. And to those who now live free because of their sacrifice, I say, we must never forget.

Our Father, we pray thanking You for those who have served, and for those personal sacrifices made for our sakes and for the sake of our great land.

We are grateful for those willing to be trained and use their training even in harm’s way to protect the cause of freedom.

For those who did not return, may the memory of their sacrifice make us stronger in our dedication to our country, and to giving ourselves in ways we can to making our homes and communities better and stronger in every way.

For those currently serving, whether on bases or locations here in our homeland, or in faraway places, bless them, protect them, comfort them. Make us ever grateful for the sacrifices they give every day for us and for our country. Amen.

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