Today is Veterans Day. Last Sunday at church, the pastor asked the veterans to stand up. One was a World War II vet. Another served in 1965. Another served in the 1950’s.
The guy who normally sits in front of me was not there on Sunday, but he’s a veteran of veterans. He served at the tail end of World War II, then in Korea, and later in Vietnam. He was in the Navy.
What particularly interested me was the women who stood up. One lady served in the Navy in the 1970’s. An older lady, who has given me rides home, also stood up. She told me some of her military story in the past. If my memory is correct, she served in the Canadian military.
Some may criticize churches for having veterans stand so the congregation can applaud them. Is not the church supposed to be about the Kingdom of God, not the Kingdom of the United States? I can see their point, but there’s nothing wrong with being polite.
I cannot say that I like every single military person I have ever met. Some of them come across to me as know-it-alls. But I have met military people whom I do like, including those in my church. I do respect their service. I also have compassion for those who are recovering from war. I remember being near a veteran from Iraq, and he cringed when he heard a helicopter. The other veterans understood what was happening: “Experiencing a bit of PTSD, huh?”
Is there a correlation between one’s political ideology and one’s view of the military? I suppose that there can be, but it’s not an iron-clad absolute. There are progressives who praise the military for being on the cutting edge of green technology. I think of Frank Schaeffer, an ex-member of the religious right who is now a harsh critic of the right: he has written beautiful books that honor the military, including one that Laura Bush praised.
And, on the right, there are some people who apply their tight view of fiscal policy to the military, saying that the military wastes a lot of money. I think of David Stockman’s book, The Triumph of Politics. Stockman was Reagan’s Office of Management and Budget head, and Stockman clashed with Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger because Stockman wanted to cut the defense budget. Stockman figured that the military could do as good of a job with less money. Of course, Stockman wanted to cut other things, too. I tend to disagree with those on the Left who think that cutting the military alone will solve the nation’s fiscal problems.
But I am against cutting services for veterans. Like the wars or not, these men and women still stepped forward and put their lives on the line. The country owes them a “Thank you.”