This past spring, as I was flying to Italy as part of a pilgrimage group, I was seated next to a young serviceman from Fort Knox. He was not part of our group but was traveling because of a job that he would be doing in Italy. I asked him about his service, and he had spent two tours of duty in Afghanistan and one tour in Iraq. At one point I expressed my gratitude to him for his service to our country. He accepted my thanks but stated that he had not done anything special. He was just doing his job.
I was touched by the humility that he demonstrated. He had spent several of his young years in harm’s way, fighting for his country, but did not think that he deserved any greater recognition than anyone else who is doing their job.
I beg to differ. Most of us who are doing our jobs are not uprooted from our homes and our families, taken to strange and dangerous places around the globe, forced to live in horrific conditions, while getting shot at, and with a high possibility that we will be wounded or killed. Our police officers would be the only exception to this, and even they get to stay in their homes with their families. Those who have served our nation in our various military branches deserve all of the thanks that we can give them and all of the help and support that they need.
This Sunday, November 11, our nation celebrates Veterans Day, though the actual observance will be on Monday. We remember and honor all of the men and women who have been part of our military services and the sacrifices that they have made for our sake. This includes all of those who have served and those who have died as part of our nation’s wars and conflicts, as well as those who have served in peacetime, or whose service took place outside of a war theater, but which supported those in battle.
Dear friends, we are truly grateful to you. For all of those veterans who have died, whether in war or by natural causes, we pray for your eternal peace. We pray that you, who faced the ugliness and violence of this world, will know the peace and beauty of the next. For those veterans who continue to carry the physical, emotional and spiritual wounds of your service, we pray that you will find the support and love that you need, and that you will find true and perfect healing from those wounds. And for all of you who have served our nation, and therefore have served us in our nation’s military, we pray blessings and peace and joy on all of you.
Fr. Mike Comer