Every Veterans Day, my family would head to my dad’s favorite restaurant. He donned his old US Army t-shirt and would get 50% off his dinner bill. His face glowed with pride. As we made our way to our seats, Dad exchanged handshakes with men and women at other tables. “Thank you for your service,” they’d say with direct eye contact and an intentional smile.
In those moments—on those days—my dad felt famous. He was our superhero. Though he served in the military before I was born, he filled the dinner conversation with stories of boot camp and the deployment and missing mom while he was away. His stories were action-packed and captivating. In the ignorance of childhood, I did not understand that his service meant sacrifice. I did not realize that some of his stories were sugarcoated and painted with positivity, too much for little ears. Though the years of his active duty were over, the memories lived on.
Today is Veterans Day and undoubtedly my dad’s Veterans Day traditions will be repeated throughout towns and cities across the nation. Veterans Day is an American holiday in which we celebrate those who served and sacrificed in our military, ensuring their memory lives on in the hearts of citizens across the nation. Originally, Veterans Day was known as Armistice Day, which was decreed in honor of the end of World War I. However, in 1954, the US government changed the day to be called “Veterans Day” to include and honor all veterans.
The US is not the only country to celebrate today. Belgium, France, Canada, United Kingdom, and several other nations also recognize veterans on November 11th. For veterans here on American soil and for those around the world, we extend gratitude. Your service, your selflessness, and your commitment to your country is seen not only by your fellow citizens but by our Father above. Thank you to all veterans, active military personnel, and military families for your sacrifice for the common good.
As we rest and enjoy the cool Autumn air, we encourage you to take a moment to thank God for the service of our veterans alive today and who live on in memory.
We come to you today filled with gratitude and humbled by our freedom, for we know that freedom is not free. In order to grant us freedom, you sacrificed your only Son to break the chains of sin. And in order to grant our country’s freedom, millions of men and women have submitted their lives to serve on our behalf.
Lord, help us to remember the sacrifice of every man and woman in our armed forces, for their service meant a commitment to our country and to us. Let us celebrate their willingness to lay their lives down for their friends, the greatest act of love (John 15:13).
Help us to remember that their service likely meant sacrifice—time spent away from loved ones, eyes that cannot unsee war, and memories that do not seem to fade. Lord, we may not know the hardships they have endured, but You do. You see all. You know all. And you are with all. We pray that these men and women would cast their burdens on you and find everlasting peace in Your presence. Let our hearts be stirred by the selflessness of our veterans. Let their sacrifice motivate us to serve one another as they have served us.
Father, help us to remember the sacrifice of their families. The parents who exchanged last hugs before deployments, never knowing if they would see their baby again. The moms and dads raising the children of our military personnel, willingly taking on the role of both mother and father. The kids who wait patiently by the door day after day, just waiting for their hero to come back home. Freedom is not free and the weight of our veterans’ services fell too on their families.
Help us to remember our current service members and their active role in defending our nation. Heavenly Father, we ask for your provision for them and your protection over them. We pray that You would use this season in the military to bring them closer to You, for we know that you use all things for our good and Your glory.
Lord, we pray that you would open our eyes to see the needs of veterans in our communities. Open our mouths to uplift our veterans with honor and kindness. Open our hands in generosity to serve and care for them. Let us not be too busy or too distracted to honor their sacrifices.
Help us to keep our eyes fixed on the day when the world will know no more war, when your peace will sweep over our lands and finally heal our brokenness. Oh God, we long for that day. But for now, we thank you for Your Son, who descended from heaven in service to You and paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
Would you like to actively show Christ’s love to veterans this holiday?
Here are a few Ideas!
- Do you know a veteran? Call them and share your gratitude.
- If you see a veteran at a restaurant, in the grocery store, or out and about, take a moment to thank them for their service.
- Gather your kids (or your friends) and make cards for veteran residents of a local nursing home. Drop them off and know that your cards likely brought smiles to their face! (Of course, call beforehand to make sure this is okay!)
- Many restaurants and shops donate part of their proceeds to local causes that support veterans, so eat your meal or go shopping at one of these locations!
- Donate to your local homeless shelter. Unfortunately, it is estimated that 13% of those experiencing homelessness are veterans.
- Attend a Veterans Day event with your friends and family! Though it may feel like your presence is a minimal contribution, your claps, cheers, and support remind veterans of the community that surrounds them.
- Drop off a meal, buy a gift card, or bake a treat for a veteran.