Yesterday was Veteran's Day here on Kwaj and we had a ceremony not unlike our Memorial Day ceremony. We gathered at the flagpole where there are memorials to those who fought and died taking the atoll and where the flags of United States and Republic of the Marshall Island fly. We were fortunate to have the keynote address from the US Ambassador to the Marshall Islands. During her speech she asked the veterans to stand. Since we live on a military installation many of the people stood and were recognized for their service. Then she asked the veteran's family members to stand and another group stood. I was reminded again that this holiday is really about people and their service. We wouldn't have the freedoms we enjoy if people hadn't served. It was good celebrate the service of the people we see day in and day out here on the island and to thank them for their sacrifice.
Another touching moment was last weekend as we celebrated All Saints Day at our church. In a normal church we would remember and pray for the congregational families who lost loved ones in the previous year. This place being different than a normal congregation we haven't had any deaths since I have been here so I decided that we should pray for the families and remember the names of those who have died in combat this last year. So at our second service we had a slide show with all their names followed by prayer and in our first service we had members of the congregation read their names during our prayer time. What struck me was the sheer volume of names. It took six volunteers nearly ten minutes to simply read the names (no title or rank) of those who died this past year. We can easily forget their sacrifice and the grief that their loved ones experience. I think it is good to remember them in our prayers regardless of how we feel about our wars or foreign policy. For the families they simply experience the pain of grief and the sting of death. Therefore they should be held in our prayers.
For the veterans who read this thank you for your service and happy Veteran's Day.