Veterans

As a young Anabaptist wife I am in a unique position of being married to a veteran of the US Army. I am also the daughter-in-law and sister-in-law of veterans. Andy’s Dad served proudly in WWII on board a ship as a radio man.

Veteran’s Day this past weekend went by quietly for the most part. In our home, the men spent the day watching old war movies like Torah, Torah, Torah!! and documentaries about the Japanese and American air battles over the seas of Japan and Pearl Harbor and Guadalcanal and wherever else. (I admit that my grasp on the history of war in this country is limited as to chronology. ) There is a sense of pride and honor displayed in my husband when he talks about the military and his time there. The uniform, the ribbons, medals and other formal outward shows of valor mean a lot to him. (And, I admit to being very thankful that he learned how to iron so well).

There has always been a struggle in our home between the idea of being members of a peace loving congregation and the fact that my husband’s family is rife with military personnel. That is the one and only thing about the Mennonite Church that Andy has not ever been able to reconcile with his own personal beliefs regarding war. Steeped in tradition and the culture of his life is military pride and steeped in mine is the idea that war is evil and wrong and totally against God.

Listening to Titus speak on the effects of land mines and cluster bombs years after the war was a grim reminder to me of something in my childhood that frightened me very much. Living in Hong Kong in the 70s and 80s, there were still many remnants of Japanese occupation of the city during WWII. A commercial on tv warned of the dangers of picking up unexploded bombs and landmines. I remember the commercial…a group of people hiking in the hills and find something interesting laying in the grass. Someone picks it up, only to have it explode in their arms and then there is just blood everywhere. As a child, that commercial terrified me and I was always worried about stepping on something like that when we would go hiking to the old battlegrounds in the hills.

I wish to applaude the efforts of Brian in our services over a few Sundays to recognize the men of the US Army that are fighting in Iraq along with the Iraqi people that are suffering. While I personally believe that violence only begets violence and that Jesus would be the first to campaign for peace without arms, we cannot deny the human toll this will have on our country as well as others. The American servicemen are no less human than their Iraqi counterparts, yet we vilify them for being involved in a war. We have somehow concluded that the only suffering in war happens to the innocent civilian victims of the war and don’t have much sympathy for the suffering of the soldiers on either side. Let’s keep remembering that there are mothers and sisters and wives and daughters on all fronts that are heart broken, hurting and need our prayers and support. These are the families that we will run into every day in our communities…we need to be prepared to love them and help them. We need to be ready to honor the sacrifices that they have made in their lives as human beings. We must be careful not to hurt them more by condemning their actions as evil and ungodly. We must be careful, oh so careful, not to judge.

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