As we pause to honor veterans, remember those whose battles are ongoing
May 27, 2019
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. — Psalm 34:18
Official Memorial Day observances in our nation date back to the Civil War era. The tradition of decorating graves of war dead in the spring dates back centuries. As our nation observes this Memorial Day, may we remember the over 1.2 million citizens who have given their lives in service to this nation.
Memorial Day is observed that we might remember and honor those whose lives were lost serving in the armed forces in defense of our nation. When we think of these souls, our attention is drawn to the ones who perished in battle, sometimes sacrificing their own lives that others might live.
On this Memorial Day I hope we also remember others whose lives have been lost through their service — but whose deaths may not be recognized as such. These honored citizens are our veterans whose lives are all too often lost after returning home.
Today in our nation an estimated 20 veterans end their lives through suicide each day. Often, the wounds that contribute to these deaths are invisible but are directly related to the battles the veterans have borne. The deaths we hear about are those that occur in a public manner — often due to the horrible reality of veterans taking their lives on the campuses of Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) facilities to express their frustration and loss of hope.
Yet nearly 8 in 10 veterans who take their lives each day have no substantive contact with the VA. We have more than 20 ministers of word and sacrament serving our veterans as chaplains within VA hospitals and clinics. Not only do these servants of Christ minister to the veterans and families who come to them for treatment, they also reach out to congregations and organizations in the community to network with resources to help find the veterans who need our assistance.
This Memorial Day, please remember and honor those who have given their lives for our nation. Also, please pray for our chaplains as they lead others to connect with veterans in need.
Lyman M. Smith, Captain, CHC, USN, Retired; Director, Presbyterian Federal Chaplaincies
Today’s Focus: Memorial Day 2019
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Lord God, we remember those who have given their lives as they served our nation. We thank you for their bravery and sacrifice and pray that as a nation we would honor them by seeking truth, mercy, freedom and justice. We pray also for veterans now tempted to end their own lives as they cope with the troubles within. Protect them, O God, and enable your people to extend your loving arms of care and strength, that peace may come. Encourage and sustain our chaplains as they herald your grace and embody your love. Amen.