The man who sat at the curb wore a veteran’s hat signifying his service. My family arrived at the annual Veterans Day Parade in Albany, Oregon just in time to grab the space behind him, a garbage can and a passel of children filling in the gaps on either side.
He acted like a tour guide for those of us nearby, identifying each branch of the military as its entourage marched down the street. He’d wave and salute those riding the various floats—the disabled vets, the aging survivors from earlier wars, those re-enactors keeping the memory of the Civil War alive.
As enlisted men passed by, they’d stop and shake his hand, thanking him for his service. They came in all ranks and branches of the military, from new recruit to seasoned soldier, all pausing to pay respect to a man who had helped keep his nation free, and who now relied on them to continue the tradition.
Watching the mutual exchange between strangers whose only link was the military hat on this man’s head, I came to understand the brotherhood of soldiers better than I could have reading a newspaper or watching a documentary. All of these individuals knew what it meant to be part of a larger alliance, to possess a mindset for which they had drilled, trained and served—a defense force engrained in their thinking that would remain with them forever.
His allegiance roused mine. I stood for every passing flag, saluted every drill unit, waved and cheered for each troop parading down the street. When the fighter jets blew out our eardrums passing over our heads, I surged with the same pride as the soldier, knowing our military defense is second to none.
Each of us should feel indebted to these men and women—a highly trained group who have paid a personal price for my freedom and yours—whose service and belief in foundational principles has allowed God to continue to bless America.
II Chronicles 7:14, King James Version: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”