Shane Claiborne posted three items on Veterans Day that I believe are worth contemplating. He shares thoughts on Facebook rather than a blog (as far as I know), so they are hard to link to. Therefore, I’ve decided to copy-and-paste them here. Shane, if this is inappropriate, let me know so I can remove them. Peace
(1) November 11, 2014
I absolutely love that the Church celebrates Martin of Tours, the “patron saint of soldiers”, on the same day as Veterans Day. Ironically, Martin was one of the Church’s first conscientious objectors to war – he refused to fight, left the military, and coined the phrase: “I am a soldier for Christ… I cannot fight the wars of man.” I can’t imagine a better person to remember on Veterans day.
Here’s a little more about brother Martin:
Martin of Tours was born during the troubling time of Constantine’s crusades. He was born four years after Constantine’s legendary conversion to Christianity, when Christians were exchanging the cross of Jesus for the sword of the empire. Into this world of “holy war,” Martin was born. He was named after Mars, the god of war. His dad was a veteran, in fact a senior officer, of the Roman Army. And like many of our kids, Martin entered the service as a young teenager to fight the crusades of the empire.
And then there was an interruption. Outside the gates of Amiens in modern-day France, Martin had a human encounter that would forever change him. He met a scantily-clad beggar and was deeply moved with compassion. With very little to give away, he took off his military cloak and cut it in half, giving half to the beggar. Then he eventually laid down his arms, saying, “I am a Christian, I cannot fight.” Later he would be taken to jail, insulted, and persecuted for deserting the army. He’s great person to remember on Veteran’s Day.
Our veteran buddy Logan Mehl-Laituri released his newest book FOR GOD AND COUNTRY on Veteran’s Day last year. This year Logan and the Centurion’s Guild have been profiling 10 “Soldier Saints” over the past 10 days — check it out on their blog: http://centurionsguild.org/blog/
And while we’re at it… why don’t we give a copy of one of Logan’s books away to the 10th person to email us with “WAR NO MORE” as subject: firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s the perfect book for Veterans Day as we try to honor the soldiers and the dead by putting an end to war.
(2) November 11, 2014
One of my favorite Veterans (other than my dad of course) is Charlie Liteky.
In 1968 Charlie Liteky was given the highest award in the US, the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon Johnson. In the movie, “Forrest Gump”, they dub over Charlie to put Tom Hanks in as he is given the award. What is not as well known is that in 1986 Charlie joined some of the most decorated veterans in the US as they returned their Medals of Honor and renounced all war.
Charlie and I got to be in Iraq together in 2003 with the Iraq Peace Team. One of the things he taught me is that veterans often know the horrors of war better than anyone. We can see it in the suicide rate (one a day for soldiers, 22 a day for veterans) and in the rate of homelessness and addiction of vets (there are 50,000 homeless veterans).
When we fight for peace, we are fighting for them. We honor the men and women in uniform by trying to put an end to war. In Iraq, I remember Charlie holding a sign while we were there that said: “I hate war as only a Veteran can.” It reminded me of the words of Ernest Hemingway: “Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime. Ask the infantry and ask the dead.”
Let’s commit ourselves today, as many folks celebrate “Veterans Day” — to honor the infantry and the dead by committing to build a world without war.
In the name of the Prince of Peace. Amen.
(3) November 11, 2014
In remembrance of Veterans Day, I came across one of my favorite poems from a veteran named George Mizo. It was handed to me by one of his friends at a vigil for peace:
You, my church, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.
You, my teachers, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.
You, my father and mother, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.
You, my friends, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.
You, my government, told me it was wrong to kill … except in war.
But now I know, you were wrong, and now I will tell you, my church, my teachers, my father and mother, my friends, my government, it is not wrong to kill except in war. It is wrong to kill.