For Your Service
"Thank you for your Service." Has become an almost nonchalant remark these days, thrown out there much like, "Have a nice day".
To be sure, it's a more welcomed remark than the in your face pejoratives of the past and it does my heart good to see the appreciation that today's vets receive as they return from war.
But, do we really know and appreciate what "service" is?
"In the service," was once a universal description of someone who had served in our military whether during war or peacetime. It applied to roughly 60 million American men and women who came home "from service" during two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and now, fifteen years of conflicts in The Middle East.
Nowhere does the word "service" have more meaning than in the military, especially noted during this month of Veteran's day.
Gratitude and appreciation were proudly displayed by those attending the recent homecoming of an Old Glory Honor Flight. Seventy Veterans were returning from their trip to Washington, D.C.
These men and women were given the chance to see and experience our nations' capital and the memorials erected in their honor.
Because those who served in WWII are now of the age that makes travel more difficult, this group included veterans from wars in Korea, Vietnam and in the Middle East. Together, they represented over seventy-five years of military service.
Hundreds showed up to cheer and wave and salute, those who served.
Thirty-year-old veterans of The Middle East wars walking alongside seventy to ninety-year-olds, many pushing walkers or in wheelchairs. All stopping for high fives and always, a salute or a hug.
The vets were humbled, almost overwhelmed by the attention. The atmosphere was one of gratitude and pride with veterans and onlookers alike, struggling to hold back a tear.
For some, it was the homecoming they missed fifty years ago.
We are all called to serve. Or, as the dictionary describes,..." To work for; to be a servant to. To prepare and offer...to wait on. To provide goods and services. To fight or undergo Military service for;. To give homage or obedience to. To be of assistance to.. To perform a duty."
All describe an engagement outside of ourselves, for the benefit of others. All involve some sort of sacrifice.
The word, service aptly describes most endeavors in our society. Those who serve in the military, law enforcement; "To Protect and Serve." Firefighters, nurses, doctors, and emergency medical personnel. Those who are caretakers for disabled family members. Parents trying to raise children in a difficult world. Those who teach, instruct, counsel. Those who make our meals, our beds, serve coffee and cut the grass. Those who mop the floors and clean toilets.
Those who minister to our spiritual needs, from birth to death. Those who care for the dying.
The Bible explains that to serve others is the highest calling (see Matthew 25:35-40, "For I was hungry...")
Whom do we serve? Many have forgotten that call, the need to serve.
Many of Our political leaders, institutional leaders, even our religious leaders have found the need to help themselves more important than their duty to serve.
Those Who Clean The Toilets
This Thanksgiving I am thankful for all those who serve. For volunteers, professionals, military. Anyone who gives of their time and talents and especially, those who put their lives on the line for others.
Families who take care of one another. Neighbors helping neighbors, communities taking care of those less fortunate, leaders risking their tenure and profits, to do the right thing.
To take on the role of servant is not easy. It requires a certain humility, a lessening of one's own station or place. It devalues pride. It requires helping without judgment.
It offers a different perspective on life and our place in the world.
The smiles, a tear, a heartfelt handshake for a job well done. The warm glow felt inside, a little quicker step, head held high. Those are the rewards.
To all who serve.