“Every headstone at Arlington (National Cemetery) tells a story. ‘These are the tales of heroes’, I thought as I put the toe of my combat boot against the white marble. I pulled a miniature American flag out of my assault pack and I pushed it three inches into the ground with my heel. I stepped aside to inspect it, making sure it met the precise standard we had briefed to our troops that day – vertical and perpendicular to the headstone. Satisfied, I moved to the next headstone to keep up with my soldiers. Having started this row, I now had to complete it. One soldier per row was our rule. Otherwise, other boot sizes might disrupt the perfect symmetry of the headstones to the flags.
“I planted flag after flag, as did the soldiers in the rows around me. Bending over to plant those flags, from eye level to the lettering on the marble stones, stories continued with each one—distinguished service cross, silver star, bronze star, purple heart. America’s wars marched by – Iraq, Afghanistan, Viet Nam, Korea, World War II, World War I. Some soldiers died in their old age. Others were still teenagers. Crosses, Stars of David, Crescents and Stars, every religion, every race, every age, and every region of America was represented in these fields of stone.” (Senator Tom Cotton, R-AR)
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:9-10; ESV)
Give Him 15 minutes in prayer:
- We struggle to understand honor. Consider the definitions here.
- In Greek, the word for honor is “time” (say, tee-may). It means “to value”. It can bestow value. It is shown to one who has risen by rank or state of office. It is reverence, and entails deference. It is dignity, esteem of the highest degree, or something precious. Stop and think about all that for a minute in light of honoring those who have fought for, and even given their lives for our freedom.
- Pray for veterans today, especially if you know them. Pray for their families.
- Find a way to honor a former soldier, living or gone.
- Tell a veteran, “Thank you for your service.” Try to make time to visit with them and hear their story, before the only place to find it is on the marker of their grave. Ask if you can pray with them. Maybe lead them to Jesus, if they have not already found Him.
A prayer you can pray:
Lord, there are those in our society that we should honor. Soldiers are some of those. Regardless of their background or choices they may have made in life, if they have served our society to keep us free, then we can take a minute to show honor to them. We should esteem them and consider their many sacrifices as precious. Let us take a few minutes and look at what honor means, in English and in Your Word. We want to show honor well, and with a complete understanding, Your Holy Spirit can go to work. We should tell them so! We should take a minute and find out what their story is, praying for them if they will allow us the honor. Holy Spirit, lead them to Jesus, the One to whom belongs the highest honor. Let us be an instrument of Your love and honor. We can put flags at headstones, but how much better to offer honor to the living, retired soldier? Marry compassion and honor in our hearts for our veterans, in Jesus name. Amen.
May the Church make it our sacred duty to honor our veterans wherever we find them!
1 Excerpted from Senator Tom Cotton’s speech, “Sacred Duty: A Soldier’s Tour at Arlington National Cemetery”, given at Hillsdale College 4/18/19.