Honoring All Who Serve: Veterans Day Thoughts
This weekend marked the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the night when the synagogues burned, glass shattered, and the Nazi plan to eliminate, to exterminate Jews and other “non-Aryans” from Europe took a drastically destructive step forward. Images of their violent attacks filled the front pages across the globe. Sadly, as a whole, friends, neighbors, countrymen did nothing. The world did nothing. In Germany official statements approved the destruction, and still the world did nothing. Some, though, risked themselves to secretly help as many Jews as possible, one at a time, to hide or escape. A highly personal story from that time was reported on NPR’s Weekend Edition. (Link)
The occupation of Norway by Hitler’s troops began several years later. By then German forces held all of Europe in their grip and Hitler aimed their expansion at England, Russia, and the north Atlantic. The fact that they masked their occupation of Norway with a claim of friendship did not change the reality of utter control. It was based on their false claims that Germans and Norwegians shared the “superior” Aryan blood lines. Some cooperated or even conspired in order to “get along” but many individuals found ways to resist and undermine the German forces.
This is important to the story of Odin’s Promise, but what does it have to do with Veterans Day?
My association comes with thoughts of my father. Eventually the USA joined the Allies in the fight against Hitler’s forces. Dad fought in World War II in Europe, in the Battle of the Bulge, and served in the final days of war and the many months after its end, all in Germany. For him, and for many other American soldiers, that meant a young German-American man left his wife and child at home to fight for his country on the soil of his parents’ homeland. Bloodlines do not create boundaries in wars.
And yet he served.
In today’s conflicts around the world I wonder how many other men and women proudly serve our country regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or distance from family and friends. Do circumstances of time and place make it more or less difficult to fulfill that commitment? Are some conflicts “good wars” and others not? Within their assignments do they know who does or does not cooperate with the oppressors?
And yet they serve.
Each Veterans Day I think of my father, grateful for his service and yet wishing it had not been necessary. In some utopian time in the future I pray that military service will only exist in history books.
Until that day (and even then) let’s never lose sight of the fact that each and every individual who serves does so with a very particular story– a personal past, a present that is put on hold, and dreams of a future with a clear realization of risking those dreams by service.
And yet they serve.
Each and every man and woman who does so deserves our utmost respect and gratitude.