A funeral for some of the first American casualties after our troops arrived in Europe in 1917.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the big guns finally went silent. After over 4 years...10 million soldiers killed...20 million soldiers wounded...7.5 million soldiers missing...the "war to end all wars" was over. It would be several months into the next year before the final treaty was signed, but the guns went silent on 11/11/18.
And the doughboys started coming home. One of them, a guy named Charlie, came home to south Alabama. Married his sweetie and went into the sawmill business. They had 8 children that reached adulthood, and 1 that didn't. They never had much money. Charlie sent two sons and two sons-in-law overseas into the next great war. Three crossed the Pacific; one crossed the Atlantic. All four made it home.
The two sons also went overseas in the next conflict in a far-off place called Korea. Shortly after, the younger of the two married his sweetie. Years later, their older son would chase Soviet submarines around the north Atlantic in the 1990s in a P-3 aircraft.
Quite a legacy of military service from one ordinary young man who went across the sea to fight in a war because his country asked him to do so. He knew very little of geopolitical subleties, and of arch-dukes who were assassinated. So it has been through our nation's history. Mostly they took up arms just because they thought they owed it to their country.
They have courage I can only imagine. Many of them experienced horrors that I cannot even imagine. They went from "boy" to "man" in a very quick hurry. The ones that I have known are forever marked by their military experiences. They are men before whom I stand grateful and silent. Politicians and professors come and go. And can be done without, frankly. Soldiers, however, are vital to us as a nation.
So, today, Veterans Day, amidst all of the others I honor, it is that one particular doughboy that I remember. Even though he died when I was not quite one year old. I wish I had known him for longer. His name was Charles, but everyone called him Charlie. Charlie Madaris. My grandpa.
One day we will have no more need for war. And for soldiers. Try to imagine that day, when the swords will be hammered into plowshares....What a glorious day that will be! But until then, join me in praying for and celebrating the men and women who put on the uniform and travel to distant, dangerous places on behalf of the rest of us.
Veterans' Day? Every day is Veterans' Day.
I thank God for them.
He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!