In just a few days, our nation will pause to remember the sacrifices which our brothers and sisters in the military have made for freedom as we observe Veterans’ Day. This opportunity of recognizing those who have served our country is significant and stands at the forefront of our minds. Just a few weeks ago, our nation celebrated the important contributions of the United States Air Force with a memorial dedicated in Arlington. This memorial is “in our own backyard” as are so many sites dedicated to the men and women of our Armed Forces that we recognize on Veterans’ Day.
Certainly, those who have worked to protect our country at the service of peace know of the sacrifices associated with their position. However, we remember that many others also experience these sacrifices — the spouse of a soldier, children of armed services members, parents with a child overseas and other family and friends who are keenly aware of the difficult life their loved one leads in the name of securing peace.
Our nation is at a crossroads with peace, a time when we have been experiencing mounting casualties in Iraq during the month of October. I join my fellow Christians in praying for the families and friends of these brave individuals. May we never forget the lasting importance of securing peace.
At this time then, I ask the faithful of our diocese to remember that we must act in a just manner to confront the evils of the world in order to ensure peace and security for future generations. Indeed, as a people of faith, we must be convinced that the power of peace will overcome evil throughout the world. We are called to imitate the gospel imperative of our Lord Jesus, Who said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44).
As we look back on our great country and the sacrifices thousands of men and women have made over the generations, we also cannot forget those currently serving overseas, who are making sacrifices each day. Our diocese reaches out to the spiritual needs of these men and women through the assignment of three military chaplains, two having served in Iraq, the other currently in Afghanistan. Moreover, there are a few simple things that all the faithful of our diocese can do in support and in gratitude for our servicemen and women’s commitment to protecting peace.
Let us remember to pray daily for those in our Armed Services, those we have lost, our enemies and for peace throughout the world. Praying the rosary to our Mother, Mary, Queen of Peace, or praying to Saint Joseph, the patron of the Universal Church, or to Saint George, Saint Ignatius Loyola, Saint Joan of Arc, Saint Martin of Tours and Saint Sebastian — all of whom are patrons of those in the military — are a few examples.
Sending a card or care package to those serving overseas or training at military bases in the United States and around the world is a very meaningful way to show support. Other suggestions: organize a group of religious education or youth group students from your parish to send cards or involve other family members in assembling care packages. Examples of such generosity within our diocese are too numerous to list.
Many of my brother priests and I have visited wounded veterans at local hospitals and seen their faces fill with hope when someone comes to sit with them at their bedside. I encourage you to visit veterans in the hospital or a rehabilitation clinic — it will lift their spirits and give you strength as well.
When our servicemen and women are in harm’s way, I am convinced that they feel stronger and are encouraged by the outpouring of love they experience from their diocesan community. As we approach Veterans’ Day, let us pause to reflect on the sacrifices our nation has experienced and always remember to pray for those who have served to make our country and our world safer, more peaceful places. May God, in His eternal love and care, grant us the gift of peace throughout the world.