Today has almost come and gone, another Veterans Day, a national holiday in America and in many Western nations. For example, in England it is called Remembrance Day. In Australia and Canada, it is also known as Remembrance Day.
Today I offered an invocation and benediction at a Veterans Day ceremony near where my family and I live.
Nothing encourages me quite like looking out at audiences with veterans from all branches of the U.S. military. They’re almost all men with gray hair or perhaps no hair. Many of them have beards or goatees. Those are invariably gray or white in color, too.
Some of the vets wear lapel pins advertising the branch of service in which they served. Still others wear pins calling attention to the schools from which they graduated or of which they were a part: Sappers, Submariners, Aviation, Seabees, Recon, etc.
Today as I listened to the guest speaker, I surveyed the faces of the crowd. But I found myself paying close attention to the children and students. They were mostly from a school for the arts in our area, and their level of talent was impressive. The girls were dressed in uniforms from the eras of some of the wars of the 20th and 21st century: WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Mostly they were dressed like the Andrews Sisters when they sang “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and other staple songs of that era.
When I was walking to the stage to take my seat until the ceremony began, a girl tugged at my uniform. “Sir,” she said, and handed me the bulletin below she had made.
“Thank you,” I said, and felt the insufficiency of my statement. Amazing the pathos that comes by way of a child handing you a bulletin she has made. The power of a child writing in markers and pasting stars onto paper and handing it to me as she looks up at my eyes seems to drawf any number of speeches I hear.
I offered my prayers, thanked the veterans–past, present, and (hopefully) future– and took my seat again. But still I found myself listening to the kids. Something was perhaps different, I thought. They seemed to have a bit of understanding of history, of why we have fought wars. They cited some historical realities. And the speaker named names in his speech and he clarified that good and evil are actual things, and that good and evil are played out on the battlefields of ideas and in our daily lives.
The kids seemed to get it, I thought to myself. And my heart leapt for joy at the thought that, instead of being brainwashed into hatred of America; instead of being “woke” and trained to respond that white people are evil and that men are “birthing persons” and that people are to be divided by skin color and sexual proclivities, etc., these kids seemed to be waking up to the idiocy of all that tripe and to see that all that rubbish is fit only for fools.
If current statistics are to be believed, less than 1% of Americans serve America by becoming Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, or Coast Guardsmen. And the trend currently is that it will be even less than 1%, a fraction of that, for the forseeable future. Why? Because ideas have consequences. If you raise your children to erase history, to rewrite it, or to pervert it, you raise, in sum, fools.
But my hope is that the tide is turning, that some (at least a remnant) are seeing the insanity of current wokeness, secularism’s self-defeating presuppostions, and all the group identity politics. I hope, I say.
I was so touched today by it all. I am a realist. I know that this Veterans Day was largely just a day for most folks to lounge, but for some, it was a time to remember, to show gratitude, to gird up our loins for the next battle, because the next battle is not a specter but a reality. Battle is inevitable.
The questions involve who will be willing to fight those battles and why. Will wisdom undergird our worldview or will mindless political slogans about sexuality, skin pigmentation, and resentment?
When I listened to the children, my hope was rekindled.
I salute you, future generations, as I do the vets of the past, present, and (hopefully) future.