Joel 2: 11 “And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executes his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?”
Jesus indicated in the Olivet Disclosure (Matthew 24), wars would increase in frequency and intensity. In the War of 1812 during the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in the Baltimore harbor, Francis Scott Key wrote (originally as a poem) “The Star Spangled Banner.”
It was during this period in history, the world began to see the intensity Jesus spoke about. Author Ronald Utt, in researching “Ships of Oak — Guns of Iron,” states that the apparent enthusiasm of the young men on both sides of the battle was revealed as the fighting continued until a ship sank or surrendered.
In today’s world of extreme and destructive armament, Jesus’ prophesy of wars and weaponry becomes alarmingly evident.
That poem later became a song, the national song of praise (anthem) of the United States of America. Based on “the bombs bursting in air,” and the American flag, then with fifteen stars and stripes, Key paid tribute to the American fighting man, the flag and the bombs that so spectacularly lit up the sky and our precious flag.
Veterans Day is November 11th. This is a special day every year we pay tribute to the veterans, who have suffered, bled and died to protect our freedom. I must point out we celebrate them this one day each year but our freedom is every day of the year.
It is so sad that so many Americans have come to take our most valued citizens as well as our freedom for granted. True, our veterans went into the various branches of the military knowing full well they may never see home again.
It could be, as difficult as it may be for many Americans to believe in the twenty-first century, they believed in America and loved this great country with all their hearts. They were willing to offer their service and, in so many cases, their lives to defend our precious freedom.
For many the suffering continued throughout their lives. Even the ones that did return home, many physical and emotional scars of battle lingered.
High on my list of favorite and most loved people was my Uncle Charlie. He landed on Normandy Beach and remained in Europe fighting the Nazis for the duration of the war.
When I became aware of his time spent in the Army during World War II, I began to question him. Keeping in mind I was just a child then, I had no idea of the trauma he endured. One thing I remember about our conversations concerning his service is that he would not talk about it.
To a child, the excitement of being in a war and being a soldier was far removed from reality. Many in America today haven’t a clue of the horrors of being in a war. The knowledge that every breath could be the last is disturbing to even the strongest warrior. Death surrounded them.
One day my dad heard me asking Charlie about his war experiences. Dad pulled me off to the side a little later and had a little talk with me. He explained how the memories Charlie had were not at all pleasant and to talk about them brought back some very horrible memories.
The men that landed on those beaches on the coast of France June 6, 1944 saw many of their friends die that day. Uncle Charlie, as did many young Americans on that day and the days following, saw their fellow soldiers die, shot by a German machine gun or blown to pieces by a bomb. Many had legs or arms blown off. Disfigured and crippled for the rest of their lives, they endured a hell-on-earth most Americans cannot even begin to fathom.
Margie and I walked on those beaches in 2019. Today they are tourist areas with a few memorial statues and markers. For the most part, one would never know of such a terrible battle taking place there.
Yet today, many scoff at their sacrifice and have little regard for their well-being. We have come to live in our world of luxuries, entertainment and leisure. Veterans have earned any entitlement they have but many others having lived in a free country think they are entitled. Non-veterans have no idea of the sacrifices made for our freedom and our great country.
Fireworks have become a must-do in many American towns and cities. Many servicemen and women cringe at the use of the bombs used to celebrate the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve.
A veteran in our area took his life on New Year’s Eve last year. The memory of battles in Afghanistan he had endured were so overwhelming, he chose to end his life.
Those “bombs bursting in air” are a powerful reminder of freedom and our precious Star Spangled Banner. But there is a down side to them and I pray Americans will consider the harm being done to combat veterans.
PTSD is an emotional and/or mental health condition that’s initiated by terrible events in one’s life that may have been experienced or witnessed. It is very real and as serious as physical injuries.
When I think back on my conversations with Uncle Charlie, I can’t help but realize he had symptoms of PTSD. His may have been a less severe case but those horrible memories of the war were there. The terrible memories are always there and a few have the strength to hide them.
I had another World War II veteran friend, also named Charlie. He told me of being in Europe for over two years. He never spoke of the battles but did tell me of the extremely cold winters the soldiers endured. They did not have adequate clothing or food. The hardships were unimaginable to today’s pampered American.
Symptoms of PTSD may include, nightmares, irritability, anger, anxiety, depression and on the extreme, suicide. The current statistic is that twenty-two veterans each and every day in America take their own lives. More American servicemen have died by taking their own life than died in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
One source reports that since 2001, more than 114,000 veterans have died by suicide. One definition of suicide is, “It is a long term solution for a short term problem.” This definition certainly does not apply to the PTSD victim. His condition is a life sentence.
For anyone to come to the knowledge of salvation through a crucified and resurrected Christ Jesus results in a born-again experience. Everyone needs that born-again experience (John 3: 3), but this life change is much more than a religious experience for a veteran. To be born again gives a peace and rest no other experience is capable of.
The treatment of our precious veterans is a national disgrace. This is absolutely a case-in-point of how little we value our freedoms and take them for granted.
A very short fifty years ago, our servicemen were fighting communism in the jungles of Vietnam. In America today, many are demanding communism as a new system of government for America. This is a slap-in-the-face to everyone that has put on a uniform, picked up a weapon and fought for freedom.
The most precious things in our lives are not appreciated until they are gone. On this Veterans Day let us take time to realize how precious our freedom is and appreciate the veterans that earned this freedom.
Please take time to pray for the veterans and the America they fought for. Also, please take time to support veterans and their families in any way possible. The families suffer and sacrifice, also. These actions are a matter of respect and sincere appreciation. We are the land of the free because of the brave!
Van Yandell, a retired industrial arts teacher, evangelist, and missionary.
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