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Thank you, veterans

As a child, I knew my grandfather served in World War II. He never spoke about it. I knew my grandmother came home with him as a war bride, leaving all her family overseas. Together, they settled in Southwestern Ontario and raised a family.

Our history books summarized wars as dates, facts and charts of “us” versus “them.” We watched M.A.S.H. on TV and there was a laugh track. When I traveled as a young woman and saw the burned-out streets of Dresden, the beaches of Normandy, and the tears of grown men remembering their lost friends, I began to grasp the complexity of military service and sacrifice. It was not until after both my grandparents passed away that I learned of their wartime experience, hardships, and tremendous love through letters they wrote to one another.

As I raise my children, I want them to understand that unlike the old Western movies, the “good guys” and “bad guys” are not identified by their hats. More than just knowing which countries were allies during each war, I want them to understand the dignity that every person deserves (and how sadly, people choose evil and “isms” that deny themselves and others their God-given rights). I want them to know, to the depths of their beings, what is worth fighting — and dying — for, and that we are all called to serve and sacrifice.

As a Catholic mother, I teach my children that they are part of the church militant, they will be confirmed as soldiers of Christ, and that life is a spiritual battle. These terms are used less often in the church today but recall this great dignity to which we aspire. We must choose each day to worship God, to obey church teaching, and to serve Christ in love and charity.

Our servicemen and women provide for us a great witness. They choose to sacrifice. They work together for something greater than themselves, and they are willing to lay down their lives for others. We should all imitate their example, especially as we bear witness to our faith in the world today.

The virtues of our service members are those of Christ, who was obedient and who gave himself out of love. When they go to foreign countries to fight for justice, to defend the lives of the innocent, and to keep evil far from home, we must pray for them. They serve without counting the cost — so we can enjoy our God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They are heroes and role models.

This Veterans Day, please take a moment and pray for our veterans. Let us not take them for granted or forget their great sacrifices. Thank them for their service to our great country, and also for their selfless witness. Let us see in them the image of Christ and offer our prayers to Christ for them and their families.

Lienhard is the director of the Catholic Education Center and special consultant for catechetics for the Diocese of Arlington.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019