Today we stop to honor our veterans – those who have stood up to protect and defend our nation. Yesterday, we were invited into the military world as the soldiers and the families of Fort Hood gathered together to mourn the loss of 13 men and women who were murdered by a fellow soldier who, as we are learning, embraced the extremist views of radical Islam. As we witnessed the memorial service on the television, radio, or internet we were reminded of the dangers our soldiers face every day. Before last week’s attack, we could not imagine that our troops would be in danger here in the U.S. But, we now know that they face enemies even at home. From the words and images that were broadcast to us from yesterday’s service, it is evident that this new reality seems to bring the men and women of our military closer and, in turn, makes them stronger, more determined.
During yesterday’s memorial service, a powerful verse from Isaiah was read: “Then I heard the voice of God saying, ‘Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” (Isaiah 6:8) At the end of the service, the powerful roll call took place. The names of soldiers were called out. Those present called out that they were “here”. When the names of the murdered soldiers were called out – there was silence. But, in that silence, you could almost hear the voice of another soldier, standing up and reciting words similar to those of Isaiah: “Here am I! Send me! Send me in their place! It will be my honor!”
The soldiers of Fort Hood and the men and women of our military who are spread out all over the world are continuing the bravery, selflessness, and honor that epitomize the members of our armed forces. Many of you have served in the military or have loved ones who served. Today, we thank each of you, all of our veterans, for all that you have given to make our country stronger.
Veterans’ Day has become a day off from school and a day for sales and bargains. Hopefully, the tragedy at Fort Hood has forced us to refocus and reconsider what this day is all about. Those who put everything on the line to preserve all that we hold dear deserve our thanks and praise. Take the time today to reach out to a veteran and thank him or her. If they can say “Send me!” the least we can do is say “Thank you!”.