By Barabara Loomis
There is an HBO series being aired on Netflix titled the “Band of Brothers”. One of the directors is Tom Hanks. I have usually appreciated anything that Tom Hanks is a part of, so I suggested that my husband Jim and I should watch the program. It follows a large group of soldiers as they start their journey in Boot Camp and are plunged into the harsh realities of WWII. They have a treacherous journey across Europe. They are confronted with loss, both competent and incompetent leadership, and the atrocities of war. Throughout the series, the title “Band of Brothers” kept coming to the surface.
They made fun of each other. They cared about each other. If they were separated for days, it was almost like a family reunion, the joy of seeing each other. If word came that someone died, they quietly grieved. They had to move on.
At the beginning of each episode, where interviews with WWII Veterans that had made that treacherous journey. That sense of family seemed to ring throughout their interviews. I watch war movies with my husband, not because I like them, but because he does. Heads up, as the series progressed it became more and more difficult for me to watch. I still need to watch the last episode. Jim watched that one without me.
That sense of family made me think of our local American Legion. The American Legion Auxiliary meets before the Legion each month. I have watched as members gather.
They are a family. There is a need to gather. It is not just another meeting you are obligated to attend. Jim Sundquist’s daughter is a member. I keep using the word “family” because our veterans are not just men. When I attended our American Legion District gathering I met some women that are active in the Legion. They are not Auxiliary.
This does not negate the fact that the “families” also serve.
When I was a junior in high school, during Physical Education, two soldiers in dress uniforms walked into the Gymnasium with the mother of one of the girls. This was my second high school, so I did not fully know what was happening or why. Girls started to wail and gather around one girl. She was six months pregnant. Her mother asked the soldiers to inform her daughter of her loss while she was surrounded by her friends. I shiver even now when I think back to that day.
That was the moment when I felt driven to protest the Vietnam war. I did respect our service people. Only around 25% of the army was drafted, however many joined because their number was up. By enlisting they were able to choose which branch of the military that they would serve. That is why my husband joined the Navy. There is a history of service in the Navy among his family and his birthday put him close to the top of the draft list.
Throughout history there has been war, someplace. War because of land, resources and even religion. In the Old Testament ancient wars were depicted as righteous. God himself killed the pharaoh’s army at the Red Sea. Jericho was reduced by God. Let’s not forget about David and Goliath. However, the Old Testament does have Moses on the mountaintop receiving the Ten Commandments. Even today the Ten Commandments did not turn us around.
Even after Jesus came and taught us to “Love one another” , that did not turn us around. Christians against Muslims is not new. Anti-Semitism always confuses me. Jesus was Jewish. Catholics have fought against Protestants. Look at history and what happened to the Incas, the Aztecs and many Native Americans.
There have been wars without declaring war. The Inquisition, in which the only Christian church of the time basically declared war on its own people. The church dogma gave them permission.
I am not here to tell us to stay out of wars. What would have changed in history if the United States did not go to Europe? The Korean girl that asked me where are you from. said “Thank You, because of you we are free”. South Korea is not fully free. The DMZ is a reality that has been addressed at the Wisconsin United Methodist Annual Conference.
I say “Thank You for your service” to our Veterans. Sometimes we need soldiers. Sometimes we need organizations like the Peace Corps.
A month ago, when I chose the Scripture 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16 from the lectionary, I thought this fits Veterans Day. As I delved into it and prayed , it seemed to be more of a Memorial Day Scripture. So, I prayed more.
The series I mentioned at the beginning “Band of Brothers “ came to my attention at the perfect time. My brother-in-law’s funeral also helped. The American Legion Post members coming forward to salute Mark and “send him on” brought it all together. That “Band of Brothers” or as I prefer Family , trust that they will see Mark again. Mark professed his faith and was never afraid to ask people if they believed in Jesus as their savior.
Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians was addressing what happens to Christians who die before the Lord Jesus returns. They believed that Jesus was coming back but were confused about some of the details surrounding His return. They believed what they were being taught. However, when one in their Band of believers passed away , how would they be with Jesus if they were not actually there for the Second coming. Death has always been so finite. The church of Thessalonians expected a much earlier return of the Lord. They were planning for their future.
Who here is a planner? I was more so when I was younger. People plan for weddings, holidays, and a new baby. Thanksgiving and let’s not forget deer hunting.
Christmas is not far away. Now with Black Friday early shopping available, I know people that check the ads every week. Put Christ in your Christmas. Put in your heart that Jesus coming to us as a baby was just the beginning. The Lord’s return is referred to over 300 times in Scripture! Might be important!
The Bible tells us in Matthew 24:7 NIV. “You will hear of wars and rumors of war, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, kingdom will rise against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes.”. Our Veterans are part of the plan. And our plan should be to love each other.
What we can also be sure of is, because we believe There is a great future with the Lord waiting for us.
And Paul tells us in verse 17 that we will be with the Lord forever. Amen.