My grandfather was born in 1903, so he was 15 years old when World War I ended on Nov. 11, 1918, the original Armistice Day. My father was born in 1929 so he was 15 years old when World War II ended in 1945. And I was born in 1960, which means I was almost 15 years old when the war in Vietnam ended in 1975.
All that to say, had my grandfather been born just a few years earlier, he would have likely served in World War I and may not lived through it. Had he not survived “the war to end all wars,” then my father would have never been born, and I wouldn’t be here writing this right now. Of course, if my grandfather had been born earlier, and survived the war, then my father would have probably been born a few years earlier, and would have served in World War II, like his older brothers did. Since almost a half million American soldiers died in that war, there’s certainly the possibility that he would not have come home. And again, I wouldn’t have been born.
Of course, had he survived that war–and we are still assuming that the timeline for my family was moved back just a few years–then I would have born a few years earlier and thus likely been drafted and served in Vietnam, where another 58,000+ American soldiers were killed in action. Who knows if I would have survived that, and in what condition?
And then there was the Gulf War, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now the war against ISIS, that came after I was beyond military years and for the most part before my children came of age to serve.
From the days of Cane slaying his brother Abel, the history of humanity on the earth is marked by war, with a little peace sprinkled in every now and then for good measure. And in our nation’s short history, just about every generation has seen its share of wars, including on-going conflict even today in the Middle East. How many family trees have been stopped in their tracks because their sons and daughters went away to serve their country and didn’t make it home?
That’s my curious and contemplative reflections as we head into this Veteran’s Day weekend. War is not pretty, even if it is sometimes necessary. But each of us are touched in some way by the wars that have come before us and will inevitably come again. For whatever reason, in God’s sovereignty, I came of age between wars, as did the generations before me, and that likely has changed the trajectory of my life. I literally “dodged the bullet” of having to go to war.
So here we are in 2019. It’s been 101 years since that first “armistice” was signed in 1918, signifying the end of the fighting in World War I, though the treaty to officially end the war wasn’t signed until June of the next year. And as I think of all those veterans who have served our country, I am grateful to God for the sacrifices made to defend the freedom of our nation. To those of you who have served, thank you.
I look forward to the day when we see the end of war forever, and Christ shall reign in peace for eternity. In the mean time, may you know the God of peace and the peace of God, from the inside out. I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you this Sunday.