Yesterday, Veterans day, was a very spiritually conflicting and uncomfortable day for me. As a person who is increasing my involvement with Peace activities, the exposure yesterday to quite a bit of media that often seemed to glorify the military and war was very unsettling. At the same time, I am the son of a wounded war veteran, and I am very sympathetic to the sacrifices made by our veterans, and am very concerned in the plight of our returning vets.
If you are in your heart against war, then the return home of our soldiers is what you have been praying for all along. But hearing that the rate of unemployment and the rate of homelessness among our returning veterans is several times greater than that of the general population is also very heartbreaking.
In searching my Franciscan spirituality, I must remind myself that Francis of Assisi, a peace activist in his own right, was a war veteran himself. Francis was a prisoner of war, and perhaps suffered from PTSD. That had to be a major influence on his conversion, his ministry and his prayer life. What can I learn from that?
While I feel uncomfortable, I have had it easy. I never had to take a tough stand personally. Would my objection to war have gone as far as being a conscientious objector? I was born too late for the Vietnam war, and though having registered for the draft, and having my birth date subjected to a draft lottery, no men from my birth year were inducted. I may never know for sure how strong my commitment would have been since I was never truly tested. My young adult life was spent in the post-Vietnam era where anti-war sentiments seemed to permeate the culture, and it was not much of a challenge to be “against war.”
That all changed after 9/11/2001 and significantly changed when our country launched what I am convinced was a totally unjustifiable war in 2003. In my opinion, that war had more to do with extending our power and protecting our oil supply and far too little to do with promoting our values or protecting our freedom. So when you hear frequent messages about how our veterans have protected our freedom, I want to scream “No, not lately!” At the same time that scream seems rather unkind to those veterans who have sacrificed much and suffered much as a result of that war.
Then you hear the next story on the news, about a now very old man, remembering with horror, his involvement as a very young man in the liberation of a holocaust death camp (Dachau), or read of a family of a soldier who died on the beach on D-Day finally receiving this week that soldier’s long lost helmet from that beach, and all you can do is cry.
I guess feeling totally uncomfortable and uneasy is exactly what I should feel. My only request at this point is to pray for our veterans, and at the same time pray for Peace. Thanks.
Though it began as Armistice Day in 1919 (celebrating the end of World War I), November 11 has been celebrated as Veterans Day in the United States since 1954. Many people observe the day with ceremonies and parades that honor the sacrifice and dedication of those who have served in the armed forces of the United States.
There may be no better way to honor a veteran than in prayer. Whether it is offered in a religious service, or privately, or silently as a parade passes by, or in a personal card or note, prayer can connect you, a veteran and God in a meaningful and productive way.
Here are five specific kinds of prayers you can pray for veterans (or, with a few small changes, for a specific veteran):
1) To Feel Honored
“God, please let every veteran of our nation’s armed forces feel truly and appropriately honored by the attention and appreciation of their fellow citizens. Let no one feel forgotten or neglected. Let every man and woman, young or old, feel the deep and enduring gratitude of our nation and its inhabitants.”
2) To Be Understood
“Father God, You know that it can be difficult for a person who has returned from battle or stressful military service to reintegrate into ‘normal’ everyday life. You know that veterans can feel isolated and alone even in the midst of their friends and families because there are few around who understand their experience. So I ask You to place in the path of our veterans those who do understand (or strive to), that they may feel less alone. Remind them often that while their fellow human beings may never fully comprehend, You see, You know and You identify with them in everything.”
3) To Be Healed
“Lord, You know how deep a warrior’s wounds go. You know the loss that many of our veterans in body and soul. You know the memories that haunt them and the scars that many of them continue to carry. Please bring healing to those veterans who still hurt. Please grant patience and wisdom to those around them who cannot understand but can sometimes help the healing process. Please apply both natural and supernatural medicine to their wounds.”
4) To Be Rewarded
“Father, please turn your gaze to those men and women who in their military service have sacrificed time, comfort, strength, ambition, health and prosperity for the peace and safety of family and friends and others they’ve never even known. Please reward them a hundredfold for all their sacrifice and service. Bless them far beyond all their expectations. Reward them richly for all they have given.”
5) To Know You
“Almighty God, You know every veteran by name. You know their deeds, their hard work, and their perseverance. You know their needs, both material and spiritual. Please draw each one closer to you and grant them all the peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7), the peace of Christ to rule in their hearts (Colossians 3:15), and ‘joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand’ forevermore (Psalm 16:11).”
On this day those who served their country as warriors are honored and celebrated.
To serve and defend our country, we the people require our warriors take a journey into hell, for as General Sherman observed in the United States Civil War, “War is Hell.”
To thank them for their service we offer up a prayer of healing.
I ask we all pray for healing them from the hurts that their service has created, physically, emotionally and mentally. We pray and encourage them to receive the grace and healing power of self-forgiveness and compassion as we honor their self-forgetfulness and service.
May they be held within the healing power of Love as they are granted the grace of putting it all behind them with the healing power of letting the past be in the past.
We pray for their healing from the hurts our failures inflicted as we as a society and a world called upon their sacrifice to wage war instead of keeping peace.
Veterans Day is a reminder that Peace is the goal as the date 11-11 celebrates the end of the United States First World War, known as the war to end all wars.
At this time, we pray for world peace and we pray that people everywhere can find peace so that we need not sacrifice any more warriors on a field of conflict.
We ask that this be a time of healing and a day of honoring Peace.
We ask that the wounds of war be healed in the hearts and minds of all we have sent forth to do battle.
We ask for wisdom for governments and leaders everywhere to find the path to peace. We pray that war becomes unthinkable as a solution in the world, as we as a world realize that we only war against ourselves, for we are One World and One Humanity.
Amen. Lord make it so.
As a thank you and to facilitate healing for all the wounded warriors I am offering a collection of three guided meditations at no cost to veterans or any enlisted arm forces over the Veterans Day weekend. Please share it freely with any you think will benefit from using them.
Learn more here http://genevievegerard.com/products-and-events/im-free-veteran-bundle.
Thank you for your service.
Copyright © 2017 Genevieve Gerard and For Veterans. All Rights Reserved.
US veterans took part in a prayer ceremony, during which they’ve apologized for historical detrimental conduct by the military toward Native Americans.
Salon published Clark’s apology to the Natives, which read as follows:
“Many of us, me particularly, are from the units that have hurt you over the many years. We came. We fought you. We took your land. We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faced of our presidents onto your sacred mountain.”
“When we took still more land and then we took your children and then we tried to make your language and we tried to eliminate your language that God gave you, and the Creator gave you. We didn’t respect you, we polluted your Earth, we’ve hurt you in so many ways but we’ve come to say that we are sorry. We are at your service and we beg for your forgiveness.”
This was a historically symbolic gesture forgiving centuries of oppression against Natives and honoring their partnership in defending the land from the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Chief Leonard Crow Dog offered forgiveness and urged for world peace, responding that “we do not own the land, the land owns us.”
Leonard Crow Dog, a Lakota elder and highly-regarded activist, left, places his hand over Wesley Clark Jr.’s head during a forgiveness ceremony for veterans
Photographer Josh Morgan was on the scene and collected the series of intimate photographs
More than 500 people participate in a forgiveness ceremony for veterans on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on Monday.
Veterans receive a blessing of sage during a healing ceremony hosted by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe as water protectors continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, in Fort Yates, North Dakota.
Gen. Wesley Clark Jr., middle, and other veterans kneel in front of Leonard Crow Dog during a forgiveness ceremony at Standing Rock
Veterans receive a blessing of sage during a healing ceremony
U.S. Air Force veteran Virginia McIntyre, left, shakes hands with chief Arvol Looking Horse
U.S. Army Veterans Tih Kobolson, left, and Aloysious Bell, walk around with a ceremonial smudge stick and feathers
U.S. Army veterans Aloysious Bell, left, and Tie Kobolson, hold ceremonial feathers and a smudge stick
Veteran Tatiana McLee wipes tears from her eyes as she films Lakota elders speak during the forgiveness ceremony.
Maria D. Michael, a Lakota elder from San Fransisco, embraces veteran Tatiana McLee during an emotional forgiveness ceremony