By the time you are reading this, I will have traveled to Washington, D. C. to officiate at my aunt’s funeral on Monday. My uncle passed away 2001 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in January of 2002. Her service will be there just two days after the national day of celebration for veterans of the Armed Forces. It’s a day with a long and rich history. Originally called Armistice Day, it celebrated the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the armistice went into effect. Other countries continue to use that title, while some prefer to call it “Remembrance Day”. By an act of Congress in 1954, the title was changed to “Veterans Day”. Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day, a U.S. public holiday in May; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day honors those who died while in military service. It is also not to be confused with Armed Forces Day, a minor U.S. remembrance that also occurs in May, which specifically honors those currently serving in the U.S. military.

My mother’s brother and her sister’s husband served in World War II; my uncle in an armor unit stationed in the Pacific Theater of the war. My father also served in the Pacific Theater from December, 1941-January, 1946 with the 37th Infantry Division. In addition to him, three brothers and four brothers-in-law served during that war as well. We have a photo of my mother’s brother, one of my father’s brothers and my father on an island in the Pacific where they accidentally crossed paths. Fortunately, all of these men returned from the war intact. Of the ten, my father was the first to pass away in 1961 and with the death of a brother-in-law a while back, they are all gone. Only one of my father’s sister’s survives from that generation of the Meister family and no one from my mother’s generation in her family.

In our congregation, we have men, who served in World War II and likely every conflict since. I hope that you were able to take a few minutes last Saturday to remember those from your family who have served in the Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Their willingness to serve on our nation’s behalf should be noted and given proper recognition whether in time of war or peace. They deserve the nation’s thanks.

In memory of those who gave their lives in the service of their country:

Words to accompany the playing of Taps

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

Fading light, dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.

Thanks and praise, for our days,
'Neath the sun, 'neath the stars, neath the sky;
As we go, this we know, God is nigh.

Sun has set, shadows come,
Time has fled, Scouts must go to their beds
Always true to the promise that they made.

While the light fades from sight,
And the stars gleaming rays softly send,
To thy hands we our souls, Lord, commend.

May they Rest in Peace.