Every November, my friends and I go (tent) camping in Yosemite National Park before the first snow. All of us are members of the same church in San Diego, but more than just “members”, we all make an effort to be united as Brothers, in Christ. This is more than just a Sunday worship service, or playing a game of Mexican Train together in a warm room of a Yosemite Valley hotel. We have each others’ back and watch out for each other.
While my spiritual brothers and I share a bond of common faith, it is not the same as the brothers – and sisters I have served alongside in the military. For twenty-six years, I wore the uniform and swore my allegiance to serve the Constitution and nation against all enemies foreign and domestic. And through several conflicts, long deployments, and looking out for families while others were deployed in war zones, all were responsibilities my peers and I shouldered. Many of us spent holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries away from loved ones.
While we give thanks for all the blessings we have in this life, these do not come without responsibilities to act justly, practice gratitude, give generously, and to treat others with respect. As military veterans and patriotic citizens, we are also compelled to stand against those who would tear down what we have worked – some at the risk of bloodshed – to preserve.
So on this Thanksgiving holiday, I think of all that my family has been experiencing this past year. I have gratitude for my God, and my fellow veterans and their families. Whether we are serving together now in the army of Christ, or served ( or still serving) in the uniform of our country. May you have a safe and joyful holiday.