Shortly before my father died, one of my daughters found a photo of his ship from WWII. He was a captain on the LSM 71, a medium size landing craft. One day my daughter was trying to prepare something special for my father’s birthday, and she went on a hunt for a photo of his ship. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack, but miraculously, she found a documented photo of LSM 71 taken on August 20, 1945. Dad’s ship was anchored off Iwo Jima awaiting orders to go to Japan. Several months before, my dad and his ship had been on the shore at the Battle of Okinawa. Since then, two atomic bombs had dropped, and Japan had surrendered. Any day they would be leaving for Tokyo Bay. My daughter framed the photo and gave it to my father. He just stared at it in amazement and pure wonderment. He talked about just sitting out there off the shore of Iwo Jima and just saying over and over again, “Dear Lord, I pray I get home soon.” I now have the photo, and I also look at it with amazement and wonderment. I look at it finding it hard to imagine that 69 years ago my father was just about to turn 21, and he was on that ship on the other side of the world, and he was just about to start the journey home. How many veterans have said the same thing my father said? “Dear Lord, I pray I get home soon.”
How many mothers have prayed that prayer? How many brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and friends and church members have prayed that prayer? If I am honest, I have to ask myself, “Why don’t I pray that prayer?” Sure, I pray for our veterans on Veterans Day and even here and there throughout the year. But the truth is, I should pray that prayer every day. The truth is, if my son or daughter or niece or nephew were away serving our country, I would be praying that prayer every day throughout the day. I would be on my knees praying fervently for their safety and their strength and their spirit and their sweet, sweet return home. But I am too busy with life, and I don’t have a family member far away serving the country I love. So I forget. Sadly, oh so sadly, I forget. So today I pray for myself. Really, I pray for myself. I pray that I never forget those who make sacrifices for me. I pray that I never get too busy to pray throughout the day for those far away. I pray that I never forget what my dad did and what other dads did and what moms and dads and brothers and sisters still do. I pray that from now on, as I leave home to go to my safe job, and as I drive home to go back to my safe home, that I will pray. I pray that God will forever remind me that he has given me a weapon also. He has given me the weapon of prayer, and it is a weapon to be used in a mighty way. Not using it is like turning my back on those who are risking everything for me. Dear Lord, I pray I never forget. Dear Lord, I pray they come home soon.
God Bless our Veterans.