He phoned about a month and a half ago.
“This is Brian Rogers of the American Legion Post 858. Don is part of our Post, and we want to honor World War II veterans at our September meeting. Will you join us?”
We agreed, and Brian asked Don questions about his 26 months of service, including 16 months during the occupation on Okinawa toward the end of WWII, and the cleanup operations after the war.
The day was amazing.
We arrived at the Post, met Brian and talked with a few other people. As people gathered, we took our seats at tables under red and blue umbrellas. John and Al, Vietnam veterans, and Al’s wife Paulette, joined our table. There was a wonderful sense of cameraderie. Men and women who served in WWII, Korea, Iraq, Vietnam, all served our country. And we learned that Paulette and Al are also Jesus followers. What a joy!
As we walked to the tables we saw a group of high schoolers practice carrying framed flags to the front table. After Don and I sat down, four of the girls came over and asked how we were doing. They all wore yellow t-shirts with NAVY on them, so we asked about their goals.
The Honor Guard, these NAVY-t-shirt students, and Boy Scouts are part of their school’s ROTC. Of the four girls who came to speak to us, two want to become pilots, one to be in another area of service, either Navy or Air Force. All were excited about helping protect our nation.
Lunch was hot dogs or hamburgers, chili, chips, eggrolls, cookies, and sodas or water.
As the anthem of each service branch was played, Brian asked those serving under the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard to stand when their theme song played. I was proud of my dear husband as he saluted to “While the Army Goes Rolling Along.”
Then Brian, current Commander of the Post, and Tito, who began the VSSA, handed out the framed flags.
Of five surviving WWII veterans, two were present – Don, and a 100-year old Coast Guard service member (right). Flags were also given to the families of WWII servicemen who passed in the last year.
We were deeply impressed by the services provided by the American Legion, through the Veterans Supportive Services Agency (VSSA). Tito, who started the VSSA, talked about how they fought to get congressional approval for American citizenship for those Filipinos who fought with us during WWII.
Now they are beginning a campaign to gain more support for deceased veterans’ wives. When their husbands pass away, these wives are often left pretty destitute.
It was a meaningful day. Meeting other veterans, and especially these students who are focused on joining the military, encouraged our hearts. So often we hear of divisions within our nation; yet there are those still willing to fight for the freedoms we enjoy. And whether or not you are a conscientious objector, I have a great deal of respect for so many who were, and are, willing to sacrifice to keep our nation free.
My confidence is not in America, our government or leaders. We are all fallible. My confidence is in the Son of God, who gave Himself to pay the penalty for my sins and yours.
One day we will all stand before the Great Commander in Chief, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, Jesus Christ. He will judge us, not on how good or bad we’ve been, but on whether we’ve accepted his free gift of eternal life through his death and resurrection.
If I was so touched by this ceremony, how much more do I want to have something to give back to God in worship when I stand before him.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.John 3:16-17, NIV