Comment from Ken: A Thank You to all those who have faced danger and war to grant you and me a peaceful, free life in The United States.
Scripture: The Beatitudes:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
I am sorry if you came earlier to walk with me, Molly and I went out for a ride. We had a few errands to do, and one of them was to get Molly a hamburger that she very much likes; I know by doing so I spoil her. But what a wonderful companion she is.
Dale leaves for work around six-thirty am for she has an hour commute to Franklin Pierce University. She is so very happy and excited about her new job that she never minds the morning commute but finds she cannot get home soon enough after a days work.
Molly and I say good-bye to Dale almost every morning without fail. Dale attempts to leave on time, but it seems her baking in the morning and the things she wishes to accomplish are just too many. That means that when she is running late, I get her coffee in a thermos for her and sometimes I see to it if she has not had breakfast that I toast her an English muffin.
Molly loves to watch as Dale’s car leaves our driveway, and then in the late afternoon, she anxiously awaits Dale’s return as does her husband. What a home greeting Molly gives her, so excited her tail does not go back and forth but looks like a propeller in motion.
While Molly and I were riding, I thought it might be right to visit the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen on Veteran’s Monday celebration. Boscawen, which even the people living in that town have a different pronunciation of their hometown is next to Concord.
Now this pastor has visited many different veterans’ cemeteries. Over my years of ministry I have officiated at several hundred funeral services for World War Two veterans. Never was I untouched by the service, the formality, the emotion, the presentation of the flag, the volley fired in memory of the service person and the final taps played by a distant trumpet. At the cemetery in Exeter, Rhode Island, there was also a bell that was tolled marking a veteran’s departure.
The veteran’s cemetery in Boscawen is truly beautiful. The stones are set in semicircles, and all of the stones are the same except for the name of the male or female hero inscribed on the stone. The stones resemble gray the stones of our ancient ancestors.
As Molly and I drove through the cemetery here in New Hampshire, I remembered many of those of my family and others who served to defend our nation’s freedoms. My brother Bill served during the Korean War and is buried in a small beautiful veteran’s cemetery in North Carolina. There are many memories of driving him back to Fort Dix in New Jersey where he worked as an assistant to a dentist. He was unfit for combat for his wrists had been broken during high school hockey games, and he could not hold a rifle in the manner the military wished. Hands and arms swollen from twisting to hold the rifle had become a serious matter. Thus he was transferred to assist a dentist, Captain Blum.
My cousin’s husband, Buddy Parkhurst, served in the Navy in Europe as our forces headed toward the Rhine River. Buddy was the one who was responsible to see that the doors of the landing craft opened to let the armed forces to spill out onto the land. Buddy taught me the carpentry and building trade along with his brothers who fought – Wayne in Europe and Chester in the Pacific.
My sister Loretta’s husband, Ed, fought in the invasion of Iwo Jima. The war took a huge toll on Ed. It was an experience he was to relive many times. Today we understand that much more than we did at the end of World War Two.
Dale’s dad, Ken Briggs, was a medic in Europe and was much loved and honored by those he tended and helped to heal. He was known to be a wonderful medic, and if he had graduated from high school, he would have begun the course of study to be a doctor. There were just two many years of learning before him so his challenge came to see that all of his children had a college education.
In the churches I have served, there were so many who loved and served our country. Many times, I have spoken of Fred Lea who served in Europe and was part of the force that liberated Dachau. I would look at that man during church service and wonder at his great faith that he could witness the horrific, cruel works of the Nazi regime and stay a firm committed Christian. How could men ever be so cruel as those responsible for the holocaust and the death of so many men, women and children?
There is a part of my life that I regret, and that is that I never served our country as a service person. There are so many things I have experienced first hand but not that. As I performed those services for veterans over the years, I had to express my gratitude over and over again. I have lived the life I have in freedom, freedom to have my own home, freedom to choose my life’s work, freedom as Franklin Roosevelt said, “Freedom from Fear, Freedom from Want, Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech.”
Take a moment will you please, even though Veteran’s day has passed to remember those who have touched your life by serving our country. Recall the brave men and women who have given us this great free land and breathe a deep sincere prayer to God.
Prayer: Dear God, We remember in our hearts those who died for our country, and those who served it and were able to return home. Help us to so work for peace and to be a peaceful people that wars may cease. O God, if only we could all listen to our Savior who spoke of the way of peace and kindness and could live by His words. It is not our Christian faith that has failed, but our failure to live by Your will. Grant us each day the resolution to follow our Savior not just in word but also in deed. In His name we pray. Amen.
Benediction: And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.