Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

11/14/2018

Harold Akridge

 

What Veterans Day Means To Me

 

  Sunday, November 11th, was Veterans Day. This is a special day for millions of men and women who are honorably serving or have served in the United States military. On this special day we recognize the sacrifices that our military men and women have made and continue to make protecting the United States of America. This date was chosen after the temporary armistice of World War I, on the 11th hour of the 11thday of the 11th month, between the Allied nations and Germany in World War 1. This year marks the one hundred anniversary of the end of what was viewed as the war to end all wars. The original day was designated as Armistice Day recognizing those men who died in World War I. It became a federal holiday November 11, 1938, and it was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 recognizing all men and women who have honorably served.

 

  There are over 24 million American military veterans living quietly in their communities never wanting to draw attention to their service. Since World War I, approximately 30 million men and women have served in the United States military. Sadly over 800,000 men and women paid the ultimate price of dying for their country in wars. Even sadder, since World War II there are more than 79,000 Americans still missing in action, their bodies have never been recovered.

 

  Being a military veteran to me goes farther than just meaning I served. In the summer of 1963 I enlisted in the Air Force. I stood in a room with about twenty-five other teenage boys raising my right hand, repeating out loud: I, Harold Akridge, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

 

  It was during this swearing in ceremony I knew something was different. In my preparation of enlisting I never considered the Oath of Enlistment. I took the same oath that millions of men and women had made before me. I made a verbal promise to serve my country, to obey the orders of the President, and the officers appointed over me, but most importantly I swore this before God. As a young seventeen-year-old boy this was the largest commitment I had ever made.

 

  Like millions of men and women I honorably served my country. I proudly served for four years, with one year of service in South Vietnam. During my one year of service in Vietnam four men I served with were killed in action. Each man left a widow and small children fatherless. One man’s body was never recovered. These four young men made the same oath I did, to “obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” These four young men along with 58,000 other men and women made the ultimate sacrifice, they died in service to their country following the orders they were given.  

 

  Wars are terrible events resulting in our military service men and women being killed and many others who will be disabled for life from war related injuries. One out of every ten veterans alive today was seriously injured in combat. There are over 4 million men and women with service connected injuries. Military veterans who suffered major service-related injuries also suffer from difficulties readjusting to civilian life and many suffer from PTSD. Millions of military men, women and families have suffered because of their service to our country. But, if you ask most of them, they would say they would do it again because to remain a free people and nation someone must serve. Let us take time this week to thank a veteran for their service and say a prayer for those who are currently serving.

 

  Dear Father in heaven, watch over all our men and women who are serving in the United States military on posts all over the world. Protect them from the enemies who are trying to kill them. Watch over their families and give them the strength they need while their loved ones are in harm’s way.  In Jesus name, Amen.

 

—HAROLD AKRIDGE

   Bella Vista church of Christ