Veterans Day and our Youth

In 1918, at 1100 hours on the 11th day of the eleventh month, hostilities between nations fighting World War I ceased. It was supposed to be the “war to end all wars”. At the commemoration of its first anniversary in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the day as Armistice Day and it was officially made a federal holiday by Congress in 1926: “Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations;”

After another World War and a short while after the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared the 11th of November, instead, to be Veterans Day, as a celebration and thank you to all the men and women who served in the Armed Forces. 

As one of those veterans, I am very humbled when someone says, “Thank you for your service.” My immediate response is to awkwardly thank them for thanking me. My second thought is, “I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into at the young age of 18... so does that still count?” What I do remember (of the good times) revolves around people. Living on a ship for several months at a time brings plenty of opportunities to talk, if only to stay awake. We talked about our families, what we wanted to see during the next port call, and what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives. Spending hour on end with one another meant that you got to know the hopes, dreams, and motivations of each person. This is very similar to how I imagine a church should be like. We take time to get to know each other as we worship and work together. 

Over the past couple of weeks, our youth met with veterans to talk about their service in the armed forces. We met before, during, and after Sunday’s service. During Fellowship, several of the youth told the gathered congregation about what they learned during their conversations. We heard stories about getting through boot camp, going overseas to put out oil fires, going surfing on the West coast of Africa, and intercepting coded communications! There were many more stories to share then time permitted. I hope the youth and veterans that were not able to meet before Veterans Day get a chance to meet in the upcoming weeks. And for those that have more questions, to ask for a follow-up meeting. From generation to generation, we learn through telling and listening to stories. I hope this inter-generational Veterans Day Project is the beginning of a conversation that will help facilitate many more.

Thank you to our Veterans for your service to our nation and for your continued service in our church.

Irish Sirmons