“The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”
After over four years of brutal warfare in Europe, Germany surrendered to the Allied powers ending World War I, at 11:00 AM November 11, 1918.
Perhaps this summary of the impact of World War I is a sobering reminder on this day we thank all our men and women who are willing to serve us by putting themselves in harm’s way.
World War I took the lives of more than 9 million soldiers; 21 million more were wounded. Civilian casualties numbered close to 10 million. The two nations most affected were Germany and France, each of which sent some 80 percent of their male populations between the ages of 15 and 49 into battle.
The political disruption surrounding World War I also contributed to the fall of four venerable imperial dynasties: Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and Turkey.
World War I brought about massive social upheaval, as millions of women entered the workforce to replace men who went to war and those who never came back. The first global war also helped to spread one of the world’s deadliest global pandemics, the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which killed an estimated 20 to 50 million people.
World War I has also been referred to as “the first modern war.” Many of the technologies now associated with military conflict—machine guns, tanks, aerial combat and radio communications—were introduced on a massive scale during World War I.
The severe effects that chemical weapons such as mustard gas and phosgene had on soldiers and civilians during World War I galvanized public and military attitudes against their continued use. The Geneva Convention agreements, signed in 1925, restricted the use of chemical and biological agents in warfare and remains in effect today. (https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-i/world-war-i-history)
Every war is ugly, brutal, deadly, disruptive and evil. Yet we have men and women who are willing to be ready to engage today to defend our Constitution, protect our freedoms, and combat evil where it exists. The last of World War I veterans died 10 years ago at the age of 110. There are still over 240,000 World War 2 vets alive (of the 16 million that participated). To all these and those that fought in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and any other battles around the world, you have my deepest appreciation, “Thank you for serving me…serving us.”
Service in place of self is a noble characteristic. Certainly there can be many motivations to be part of our military, but I have to think that two passages from Scripture are in many of our veterans:
Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
Freedom can be used for many things. Thank you for using your freedom to serve others. Love can manifest in many ways. Thank you for loving your country enough to be willing to lay down your life for it, for us.
On this Veterans’ Day, remember the gift of our country is one we ought not take for granted. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. Let us not just thank our veterans today, but our gracious Lord who has allowed our country to be a beacon of freedom and hope to many. Then with the freedom we have in our United States, let us be an army of God’s people who combat sin and evil not with the swords of steel but with the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
Thank you Lord! Thank you veterans! Thank you for the freedom and love you all share with us!
Apply: Certainly take time today to thank a Veteran who has had a part in protecting the freedoms we enjoy. Resolve to use the freedom God gives to share Jesus with others around you.
Prayer: Lord thank you for men and women who are willing to put their lives on the line to protect mine. In your mercy, preserve our nation and the freedoms it allows. Disrupt and put an end to all who wish evil and harm on people and through it all let the power of your Gospel prevail. AMEN.