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Retailers race from goblins and candy corn to Santa and reindeer. If we look hard we’ll find a cardboard pilgrim and a few turkey feathers in the mix. With the rush of holiday celebrations that are packed into the end of the year, there’s even less space for the celebration of Veteran’s Day - the 11th of November. What a shame.
Last week Othel and I were part of a pre-Veteran’s Day commemoration in Birmingham. Shields, our five-year-old kindergarten scholar, invited us to a joint grandparents/Veteran’s Day event at her school. She led us down a long hall in their massive church facility to her special kindergarten class. We passed through tall, short, plump, thin, lithe, lagging - all varieties of grandparents but all acclaiming the joy and rites of grand parenting
Shields beamed as she gave her teacher a hug and said, “This is Mama C and Daddy O.” The room was brimming with more grandparents and smiling faces of other five-year-olds. The teacher called her students, and they rushed to her like baby chicks to a mother hen.
“Our class would like to share some of the lessons we’ve learned and sing a song for you,” the teacher said in a gentle voice. As the children sat around her, they answered doctrinal questions that would be the foundations of their spiritual growth. Truth permeated the room, and I rejoiced in the assurance and strength of its presence.
From the kindergarten classroom, we filed into the sanctuary for the Veteran’s Day celebration. There was the presentation of the colors, music selections from each of the K-3rd combined classes, an orchestra of young musicians, and a sixth grade choral group that filled the Olympic-size choir. Every prayer and song selection included praises and thanksgiving to God for “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Then the “brave” were recognized by the wars in which they served. A long list was called as grandfathers and a few fathers marched down the aisles toward the front of the sanctuary. Their grandchildren were invited to come from their sections to join them.
There were young soldiers just home from Iraq. There were elderly granddads - some crippled and wounded, and some assisted by loved ones.
When the Vietnam War was announced, Othel scooped up Patton and found Shields. She soon fit in his other arm!
What a grand sight - hundreds of veterans surrounded by their grandchildren - flanked by Ole Glory and the Christian flag. Courage filled in the ranks and Sacrifice reminded us of those who would never experience grandparenting.
It was a day of true thanksgiving. Liberated from personal sin and living in a democracy - what a freedom celebration! Glory, glory Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.