In November 1919, one year after the armistice ending World War 1 went into effect, President Wilson declared November 11th as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing which it has freed us from and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations,… In June 1954, the US congress approved the changing to Veteran’s Day.
Since the time of the Civil War, over 53 and a half million veterans have served in the 5 branches of the US military. The last World War 1 veteran, Frank Buckles, died in 2011 at the age of 110 years. Of the 16 million World War 2 veterans, there are only 620,000 remaining and are dying at the rate of 372 per day. A kid who was 18 in 1945 would be 90 in 2017.
As I began preparing for today, 3 words kept coming to mind; Duty, Honor, and Country. Between Mr. Google and Mr. Webster, I came up with the following definitions. Duty – something that one is expected or required to do by moral or legal obligation. Honor – high respect, honesty, fairness, or integrity in one’s beliefs and actions. Country – the people of a district, state, or nation; the land of one’s birth or citizenship. Then, I looked at “My Country” and got a bunch of songs and a couple of phrases.
The phrase “My Country, Right or Wrong” is known to most of us. Now let us hear it the way it was spoken originally. Steven Decatur, one of the founders of the US Navy, Captain at age 25, spoke it as part of a warrior’s toast – “Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be right; but our country, right or wrong.” Whether you think of “Our country” as the government, the people or the place, … or all of them combined, we are all patriots. Patriots range from zealous militants to those who are honor-bound, choosing to be loyal and obedient until required to be otherwise.
Everyone who joins the military has one thing in common, they must swear-in by repeating the enlistment Oath. The Oath of Enlistment is something that every service member must promise and adhere to for his or her entire military career. From the Oath, you can see that you will be defending the Constitution – not a person. Discipline and accepting orders is sworn to. Finally, you vow to face the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) should any disputes arise. The Oath of Enlistment is: I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God. There is no duration of the Oath defined in the enlistment contract, only the term or length of enlistment. I have found nowhere in my researching that the Oath is ever rescinded or revoked or cancelled. So, I will continue to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, whom-so-ever.
Let’s look upon the POW/MIA flag. The flag (prisoner of war/missing in action) is a symbol of remembrance and accountability. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has recently announced the identification of remains of American service members who have been missing in action since World War 2 and Korea. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
WW2 - Assigned to the USS Oklahoma on Dec. 7th, 1941 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Navy Seaman 1st Class William Welch, 18, Springfield, Ohio – Navy Fireman 3rd Class John Lindsley, 22, Waukegan, IL – Navy Fireman 2nd Class Rudolph Piskuran, 19, Elyria, OH – Navy Fireman 3rd Class Edwin Hopkins, 19, Keene, NH – Navy Seaman 2nd Class, James Phipps, 24, Rainier, OR – Navy Seaman 2nd Class Lewis Wagoner, 20, Douglas Co, Mo – Navy Lt Jr Grd Aloysius Schmitt, 32, St Lucas, Iowa
WW2 – Betio Island, Gilbert Islands, Nov, 1943 – Marine Field Music 1st Class Warren Nelson, no home of record listed – Marine PFC James Smith, 19, Liberty, Miss – Marine PFC Nichols Cancilla, 18, Altoona, Pa – Marine Sgt Fae Moore, 23, Chadron, Ne – Marine PFC Ronald Vosmer, 22, Denver, Co
WW2 – Dresden, Germany, Apr 1945 – Army Air Forces 1st Lt Donald Beals, 22, Brookings , SD
Korea – Kunu-ri, North Korea, Nov 1950 – Army PFC Lavern Ullmer, Montgomery, OH, Died as a POW – Army Cpl Milton Bullis, 19, Detroit, Mich, Died as a POW – Army Cpl Wayne Minard, 19, Furley, KS
Somin-dong, North Korea, Nov 1950 – Army Major Jack Griffiths, Comanche Co, OK, Died as a POW.
Chosin Reservior, North Korea, Dec 1950 – Army Sgt Louis Baxter, 22, Massena, NY – Army Cpl Melvin Hill, no home of record listed – Army Cpl Joseph Trapasso, 20, Fulton, NY – Army Sgt James Martin, 22, Anacoco, La
Unsan, North Korea, Nov 1950 – Army Cpl William Smith, 18, Hornell, NY – Army Sgt 1st Class James Shunney, 19, Woonsocket, RI
Hoengsong, South Korea, Feb 1951 – Army PFC William Cowan, Died as a POW, no home of record listed
Chorwon, South Korea, Apr 1951 – Army PFC William Giovanniello, 22, Brooklyn, NY
Taejon, South Korea , July 1950 – Army Cpl Donald Matney, 18, Seymor, MO.
There are 26 on this list and there are more lists coming.
Let us remember them and hold up their families in love and prayer.
We go to the book of Ezekiel 22nd chapter 30th verse, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Ezekiel saying; And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Then, we go to 1st Chronicles 9th chapter 23rd verse, speaking of the Tribe of Levi; So they and their children had the oversight of the gates of the house of the Lord, namely, the house of the tabernacle… We finish with Isaiah 6th chapter 8th verse, Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
When we were first deployed to Saudi Arabia for the start of Desert Shield in August 1990, we were told what we could or couldn’t bring with us. Because we were going into an Islamic country, the military chaplains couldn’t wear the symbols of their faith on their uniforms. It took several months and many high level meetings before that was allowed and service members were allowed to have non-Islamic religious items. Yes, I have read from the Koran. I think everyone should. It will allow you some understanding.
I was that which others did not want to be. I went where others feared to go and did what others failed to do. I asked nothing from those who gave nothing and reluctantly accepted the thought of eternal loneliness … should I fail. I have seen the face of Terror, felt the stinging cold of Fear, and enjoyed the sweet taste of a moment’s love. I have cried, pained and hoped… but most of all, I have lived times others would say were best forgotten. At least someday, I will be able to say that I was proud of what I was… A Soldier.
The Motto of the US Army Special Forces “De Oppresso Liber” meaning “to free the oppressed” seems appropriate.
“Once the warrior is no longer needed, once he becomes a relic of war, when it seems peace will prevail, he is mocked for being a savage, mocked for being a monster. But, when America needed her warriors to stand between her and doom, she called on her monsters to do what others would not. I say to you that are hearing this, the night is still cold, the danger still persists, and we who are your savages will again visit violence on those who dare to cause harm to our land, not just for America, but for our way of life, against all enemies, foreign and domestic. So help us God.”
We want to personally thank you all for still “Standing in the Gap and Helping to Guard the Gates of Freedom” and for your sacrifice and the sacrifice of your families. May our God continue to bless you and yours. We may not know what is our future, so “Give It To God and Go To Sleep”.