A Veterans Day Tribute 2020

Today, November 11, 2020, is Veterans Day in America. Considering the very divisive year we’ve had so far starting off with the coronavirus pandemic in March and then the rioting/protests that started after George Floyd’s death on Memorial Day in May and throughout the summer, and culminating most recently with one of the most divisive presidential campaign cycles we’ve ever experienced, it’s about time we had a celebration about something good in America–our Veterans.

The following is a  transcript from President Ronald Reagan‘s speech given on Veterans Day on November 11, 1985:

Secretary Weinberger, Harry Walters, Robert Medairos, reverend clergy, ladies and gentlemen, a few moments ago I placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and as I stepped back and stood during the moment of silence that followed, I said a small prayer. And it occurred to me that each of my predecessors has had a similar moment, and I wondered if our prayers weren’t very much the same, if not identical.

We celebrate Veterans Day on the anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, the armistice that began on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. And I wonder, in fact, if all Americans’ prayers aren’t the same as those I mentioned a moment ago. The timing of this holiday is quite deliberate in terms of historical fact but somehow it always seems quite fitting to me that this day comes deep in autumn when the colors are muted and the days seem to invite contemplation.

We are gathered at the National Cemetery, which provides a final resting place for the heroes who have defended our country since the Civil War. This amphitheater, this place for speeches, is more central to this cemetery than it first might seem apparent, for all we can ever do for our heroes is remember them and remember what they did — and memories are transmitted through words.

Sometime back I received in the name of our country the bodies of four marines who had died while on active duty. I said then that there is a special sadness that accompanies the death of a serviceman, for we’re never quite good enough to them-not really; we can’t be, because what they gave us is beyond our powers to repay. And so, when a serviceman dies, it’s a tear in the fabric, a break in the whole, and all we can do is remember.

It is, in a way, an odd thing to honor those who died in defense of our country, in defense of us, in wars far away. The imagination plays a trick. We see these soldiers in our mind as old and wise. We see them as something like the Founding Fathers, grave and gray haired. But most of them were boys when they died, and they gave up two lives — the one they were living and the one they would have lived. When they died, they gave up their chance to be husbands and fathers and grandfathers. They gave up their chance to be revered old men. They gave up everything for our country, for us. And all we can do is remember.

There’s always someone who is remembering for us. No matter what time of year it is or what time of day, there are always people who come to this cemetery, leave a flag or a flower or a little rock on a headstone. And they stop and bow their heads and communicate what they wished to communicate. They say, “Hello, Johnny,” or “Hello, Bob. We still think of you. You’re still with us. We never got over you, and we pray for you still, and we’ll see you again. We’ll all meet again.” In a way, they represent us, these relatives and friends, and they speak for us as they walk among the headstones and remember. It’s not so hard to summon memory, but it’s hard to recapture meaning.

And the living have a responsibility to remember the conditions that led to the wars in which our heroes died. Perhaps we can start by remembering this: that all of those who died for us and our country were, in one way or another, victims of a peace process that failed; victims of a decision to forget certain things; to forget, for instance, that the surest way to keep a peace going is to stay strong. Weakness, after all, is a temptation — it tempts the pugnacious to assert themselves — but strength is a declaration that cannot be misunderstood. Strength is a condition that declares actions have consequences. Strength is a prudent warning to the belligerent that aggression need not go unanswered.

Peace fails when we forget what we stand for. It fails when we forget that our Republic is based on firm principles, principles that have real meaning, that with them, we are the last, best hope of man on Earth; without them, we’re little more than the crust of a continent. Peace also fails when we forget to bring to the bargaining table God’s first intellectual gift to man: common sense. Common sense gives us a realistic knowledge of human beings and how they think, how they live in the world, what motivates them. Common sense tells us that man has magic in him, but also clay. Common sense can tell the difference between right and wrong. Common sense forgives error, but it always recognizes it to be error first.

We endanger the peace and confuse all issues when we obscure the truth; when we refuse to name an act for what it is; when we refuse to see the obvious and seek safety in Almighty. Peace is only maintained and won by those who have clear eyes and brave minds. Peace is imperiled when we forget to try for agreements and settlements and treaties; when we forget to hold out our hands and strive; when we forget that God gave us talents to use in securing the ends He desires. Peace fails when we forget that agreements, once made, cannot be broken without a price.

Each new day carries within it the potential for breakthroughs, for progress. Each new day bursts with possibilities. And so, hope is realistic and despair a pointless little sin. And peace fails when we forget to pray to the source of all peace and life and happiness. I think sometimes of General Matthew Ridgeway, who, the night before D-day, tossed sleepless on his cot and talked to the Lord and listened for the promise that God made to Joshua: “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

We’re surrounded today by the dead of our wars. We owe them a debt we can never repay. All we can do is remember them and what they did and why they had to be brave for us. All we can do is try to see that other young men never have to join them. Today, as never before, we must pledge to remember the things that will continue the peace. Today, as never before, we must pray for God’s help in broadening and deepening the peace we enjoy. Let us pray for freedom and justice and a more stable world. And let us make a compact today with the dead, a promise in the words for which General Ridgeway listened, “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

In memory of those who gave the last full measure of devotion, may our efforts to achieve lasting peace gain strength. And through whatever coincidence or accident of timing, I tell you that a week from now when I am some thousands of miles away, believe me, the memory and the importance of this day will be in the forefront of my mind and in my heart.

Thank you. God bless you all, and God bless America. (Quote source here.)

Please enjoy the following YouTube video tributes to Veterans everywhere, and thank you, Veterans…

For your service . . . 

To our great country . . .

The USA . . . .

YouTube Video: “Veterans Day Tribute 2020” (4:08 video) by Ten Minutes of Truth:

YouTube Video: “Veterans Day 2020 Video” (7:52 video including President Ronald Reagan’s speech from 1981) by Joe Knopick:

YouTube Video: “Veterans Day – November 11th – Honoring All Who Served” (6:41 video) by LionHeart FilmWorks: 

YouTube Video: “Veterans Day Tribute 2020” (4:44 video) by Ginger in Japan:

Photo credit here

In God We Trust — True or False?

For Psalm 25Throughout his life, King David (who started out as a shepherd boy) learned to put his complete trust in the Lord, no matter how dire his circumstances. The book of Psalms is filled with many of his songs to the Lord not only seeking the Lord’s help to rescue him during the many crises that came up during his life but to cleanse him from his sins and to praise the Lord’s name forever and ever. While David was far from perfect (see article at this link), God testified that David was “a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do” (Acts 13:22). David learned to trust in God completely, no matter what the circumstances. How often do we do that today? Most of the time we say we trust God, but we really trust in ourselves or our money or our status or our position; or our own “wily ways” and just about anything else that we can see, do, or manipulate. The kind of complete trust that David had in God and not in himself or anyone else is, unfortunately, often rare in our world today. It was rare in David’s world, too.

How often do we trust in our own “wily ways” (status, money, power, deceit, etc.) and how often have we placed our trust in others (e.g., family and friends, relatives, spouses or significant others, employers or coworkers, even pastors or deacons or elders or church folks, government officials, teachers or professors, etc.) only to have it fall flat when we needed it the most? More times then we’d like to admit, I’m sure. Trust is a very fragile thing, and humans aren’t very good at it or with it especially when push comes to shove. Selfish motives and/or self-protection is pretty much the rule of the day . . . even among folks who call themselves Christian. And we trust in our paychecks, government checks, or retirement accounts more than we trust in God to be there for us.

The answer to this whole trust issue is found in the very middle verse of the Bible—Psalm 118:8—and it states the following:

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in humans.

That just about covers the waterfront, doesn’t it? “Humans” is all inclusive of the entire human race and that includes you and me, folks. None of us can be trusted all of the time, most of the time, or even some of the time. Ulterior motives reign supreme and self gets in the way. Only God can be trusted, and it is only in God that we should place all of our trust. Even our money here in America states, “In God We Trust,” but the reality–and the irony–is that we far too often place our trust in all of that money instead of God who created the entire universe including that money that we crave more then we crave Him. Money cannot save anybody, folks, and any “loyalty” it buys is shallow and self-serving at best. And Jesus even said in his Sermon on the Mount that “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). Unfortunately, most of us serve money while claiming to serve God but the way we act and live and treat others tells the truth. And the love of money is idolatry and can end up destroying our lives and/or getting us killed.

Psalm 25v14-15David’s trust was not in wealth or possessions (and he had a great deal of both as King) nor was it in people (just look at how King Saul tried to kill him many times without success before he became King). And even when David had the perfect opportunity to kill King Saul (see I Samuel 24), he chose to trust in God for the outcome and not in his own wits, and he spared Saul’s life. Did you get that? He spared the life of the very man who wanted to murder him in the worst way. That, folks, is what complete trust in God–and not in our own ability and bent towards retaliation and revenge and hate–looks and acts like, and it’s not often found in our world. And in the end King Saul took his own life (see I Samuel 31) and David became King.

The cry of David’s heart was always to God and not to any person regardless of how powerful they might be. One of my very favorites Psalms over the years (and there are many, but this one has always stood out) is Psalm 25. Let’s read it:

Psalm 25
(A psalm of David)

In you, Lord my God,
I put my trust.

I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.

Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, Lord, are good.

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.
All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
For the sake of your name, Lord,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.
They will spend their days in prosperity,
and their descendants will inherit the land.
The Lord confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.
My eyes are ever on the Lord,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart
and free me from my anguish.
Look on my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.
See how numerous are my enemies
and how fiercely they hate me!

Guard my life and rescue me;
do not let me be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope, Lord, is in you.

Deliver Israel, O God,
from all their troubles!

When was the last time we can say we totally trusted God without trying to run interference for him? Be honest now. Look at the sequence of events found in this Psalm. Do we start off our request by stating, “In you, Lord my God, I put my trust” and if so, do we really mean it? God knows our hearts far better than even we know them. Proverbs 3:5-8 states:

Trust in the Lord with all you heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.

In God We Trust @ robertluisrabello.com A-3While I can’t speak for anyone else, I am the first to admit that “my own understanding” gets in the way all the time. I don’t begin to have all the pieces to the puzzle of any circumstance I find myself in (such as my very long trial with unemployment and the many challenges it has presented in my life over the past four and a half plus years now), yet I try to figure out the entire situation all the time and only end up enormously frustrated most of the time. While God has given us the ability to understand some things, what he is telling us in these verses is not to “lean on” that understanding. Even if our own understanding is partially true, we don’t have the whole picture–only God does–and that is why he tells us to trust him with all of our heart and not to lean on our own understanding. That’s incredibly hard to do but it’s not impossible, because God never gives us anything that is “impossible.” Never. But we have to trust him and not ourselves and we literally have to let him guide us step by step each day and not three weeks into the future. No . . . his guidance is RIGHT NOW . . . and not tomorrow. He’ll take care of tomorrow when it gets here and we trust him (and not ourselves) with it.

Just as Kermit the Frog (in “Sesame Street”) said, “It’s not easy being green,” we can relate by saying, “It’s not easy being human.” We want the control, and we want to tell God how to solve our problem(s) or at least help him with it. And that’s not how God works. He is the potter and we are the clay. The clay doesn’t tell the potter what it wants to be. No, the potter makes the clay into what he wants it to be. And if we insist on having our own way, we’ll only end up as cracked pots that are good for nothing in the end. Unfortunately, we don’t believe that most of the time and think that we know best until it is too late. So who is really in control–us or God?

David knew who was in control of his life. . .

Do we know who is really in control of ours?

YouTube Video: “Total Praise” by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here
Photo #3 credit here