Our Veterans’ Sacrifices
(Posted Nov. 9, 2022)
By Rev. Pat Kriss
“No man ever steps in the same river twice.
For it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” -- Heraclitus
With Veterans’ Day just ahead of us, it always bothers me when people confuse that date with Memorial Day. It’s as if we are so conditioned to connect conflict with death, that it’s easier for us to visualize “the crosses, row on row,” than it is to think about – and recognize all those who returned home alive. For some the homecoming was not for the better.
The Veteran's Homecoming
From my time running the Veteran-Friendly Initiative for our church, I remember how soldiers still laboring on the unfamiliar field of conflict would virtually dream of the day when they could return to the sameness of home and family. It sustained many an enlisted person through the darkest of days, a dream that would be waiting for them at the end of deployment.
But then, the sameness of life that soldiers craved turned into an elusive thing. Change happens. People back home had to pick up their lives and move forward while their soldiers were away. Spouses ended up shouldering the responsibilities of the absent soldier, and actually got pretty good at it. Children didn’t stop growing or changing either. The returning enlisted person would come into their house, discover people they never met who had become fast friends with their kids. Life had flowed on. It was the same house, but an entirely different dynamic where the soldier had to re-develop a sense of self and family role.
The Veteran's Healing
The late Bob Dole, whose service to the country brought him home with permanent injuries, points out that these readjustment challenges are not a disorder. But they can be aided by a caring community.
Other vets ending their hitch in a theater of action where concussive injuries were suffered from “improvised explosive devices (IED) may have hidden injuries and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) that may affect daily life with family and a return to employment. Regardless of the individual sacrifice that was made, It is our job as friends and neighbors of vets, no matter how long ago their service was, to support them, so that they understand how much we appreciate their courage.
Senator Dole said, “In battle, courage means sacrificing our own well-being for our fellow soldiers and for our country. After battle, courage means concentrating on and being honest with ourselves, using all the tools we can gather to lead the best life we can, and, by example, giving something to those who will follow in our foot-steps.”
This Sunday is our salute to the courage of our veterans, and our prayers for healing.