I’d like to share one more impression from my day at Arlington Cemetery and the World War II, Vietnam, and Korean memorials. When we arrived at the World War II memorial, there were dozens of elementary school children from D.C. lining the entrance into the memorial. They were waiting for WWII vets to arrive, about 15 men from St. Louis. Their flight had left St. Louis at 3:30 a.m., and they were scheduled to arrive home at 11:30 that evening. The children cheered as the vets were escorted, one at a time, down the long entrance, most of them in wheelchairs. The children waved their flags, shook hands with the vets, and presented them with handmade cards, drawings and notes. One of the girls, 10 years old, came over to where we were and read to us the two-page letter she had written. The preparation for this day had obviously been a major school project.
I’m sure it was not on the evening news, but it was quite an event. I doubt the children will forget it.
Neither will I. Very few of the WWII veterans tried to hide their pleasure. One of them told us that during the war, he resolved that he would become a doctor if he made it back home, because he wanted to devote the rest of his life to the healing of others.
I’m going to be away this weekend. Brent Walker will be the guest preacher. Since Sunday is November 11, Veterans Day, I want to salute the veterans in our congregation. This is a verbal, pastoral salute. When Colin Powell was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, I filled in for him one year at the dress rehearsal for the Memorial Day Concert. Part of my role was to salute the color guards and the (stand-in) chiefs from the different services. My military friends in the audience were falling over each other laughing at my performance. Unfortunately, I had failed to rehearse the salute!
I’m not sure my salute is any better now than it was then, but I do want to express my respect and appreciation for those who have served. Every time I go to Section 60 at Arlington Cemetery, among a range of conflicting emotions, I always think of the veterans in our congregation and how grateful I am that they made it home. And I know our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of those who did not.
I also want to express the gratitude we all feel for the Ethics Seminar on immigration planned by our Missions Commission. I think this all-too-brief series is going to continue to bear fruit as we seek to be a Jesus-community working for justice.
Peace to all of you!