The tradition begins with the reading of the names of pioneer settlers who founded Bethel Grove Church and the Veterans of all wars through history who are buried at Bethel Grove. Having grown up in this church, I remember many years of the reading of these names. Even though I haven't memorized the list, I feel as if I know these faithful Veterans, though many served before I was born.
Those who choose to serve our Country in service, and those drafted to serve without a choice, found themselves in foreign lands or moving to new states, away from family and the comfort of their home church. Some faced battles they couldn't win, others trained to be experts in the many professions that are the lifeblood of service organizations.
We often get to know a person and only later find out their military service history. Sometimes the Veterans don't want to talk about their experiences because they were so painful - both physically and emotionally. Their dedicated service changes their lives forever.
"Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look upon us, we pray, for we are all your people" (Isaiah 65:8-9 NIV).
May God bring comfort to all those servicepersons who suffer yet today because of the past. May we honor our Veterans with a loyal heart and give them our thanks for the freedoms we enjoy. Amen.