Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Veteran's Day!

How was your Veteran's Day?

Mine was pretty normal. I got the day off so I slept in late. After breakfast, I did a few chores around the house and then Applebee's was having a free meal for Veterans so we headed down there for a treat. The place was packed! We left after we were told it was going to be a 2-hour wait and we went to Chick-Fil-A instead. Had a good lunch and the kids went to play in their play area. Lorri and I finally had a chance to talk over waffle fries and soda - it was really nice.

Then we came home to put the youngest down for his nap and I dropped some things off to Goodwill and came home where the two oldest helped me wash the car. No one was in the mood to cook so we brought home some Chinese take-out and then I took the kids for dance class after dinner. The day ended as it usually does with prayers, kisses and the kids going to bed.

It was a normal day and it was a perfect Veteran's Day.

A lot of people would scoff. Normal days can be seen as a disappointment because they want something special, fireworks, dinner by candlelight.

Not me. Normal is perfect for Veteran's Day.

Normal is what those that died sacrificed for their country. Mostly young, because our wars are fought by our young, they never got a chance to really live their lives. They never got a chance to experience normal like they should have by raising a family, having a home to grow old in, tucking their kids in at night. For each other, for a cause greater than themselves, they sacrificed all their tomorrows - all the normals they should have had - so that we could have ours.

Normal is what made the Greatest Generation the Greatest Generation. When they returned from WWII, they didn't wallow in entitlements - they got to work. The GI Bill helped but it wasn't the GI Bill that made this generation great. What made them great was that they went to work on getting themselves and this country normal again. They got jobs, had families, paid bills, they lived. They didn't wait for the Government to tell them what to do - they figured out what needed doing and did it.

Sometimes we get frustrated with our lives. We think there should be more. The lament from many Mom's "All I did today was wipe butts and noses!" is common. It's OK for frustration but not when it is believed. Wiping butts and noses may not seem like it can change the world but the love behind it can change the world for a child and for a family. Mother Teresa once said, “We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.” That's some wisdom.

In every small task, sweeping the floor, doing the laundry, pushing the swing, can be the opportunity for holiness if we do it with love.

That is what God wants and that is what the Veterans fought for us to have - a normal life that is fulfilling because it is holy.

I find it interesting, and appropriate, that 11 November is also the feast day of St. Martin of Tours.

St. Martin started out as a Roman soldier. He was baptized as an adult and became a monk. St. Martin was a kind man who led a quiet and simple life.

The most famous legend of his life is that to save a beggar from dying of cold he cut his cloak in half to share with this beggar during a snowstorm. That night he dreamed that Jesus was wearing the half-cloak Martin had given away. Martin heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized; he has clothed me."

Most of us will never have the chance to save the world. To invent the drug that will save millions. Most of us will live quietly - known only to our family and friends.

But all of us will have a chance to show kindness and charity. In the "normalness" of our lives, we will have a chance to cloth the naked, feed the hungry, and comfort the suffering. And when we do these things, we will be doing this for Jesus.

When we open our eyes to the presence of Jesus in others, we can begin to see our opportunity to be God's hands and feet and to "feed his sheep."

Then we can begin to count ourselves among the righteous.

“Then the righteous will say to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you something to eat, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or see you naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

The king will answer them, ‘I tell you with certainty, since you did it for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.’

Normal is great.


  1. I like it Phil. Normal is good.

  2. Well said my friend. Normal is great.

  3. I'm not sure if it is because I have gotten older, or having children that has caused my mind to shift. When you addressed the fact most of our veterans are so young. It just tugs at my heart. I vividly remember the many young boys (I know their courage made them men, but their faces were still so young) at Walter Reed. Without arms, without legs, with brain injuries. . .so much to overcome.
    You are right though, with God they can overcome. With our love, prayers and support (not merely hand outs) they have the potential to be the next Greatest Generation.
    We too had a "boring" day, but we were just so thrilled that Daddy was here to enjoy it with us.