As I gazed upon the crowd this morning, I wondered why November 11th was chosen as Veteran’s Day? In my polly-anna-esque thoughts, I wanted to believe that somewhere in our great nation’s history a wise person decided it should be close to Election Day. Perhaps there had been a previous need for healing from a tumultuous election? Maybe some great unifying leader saw the need for us to celebrate the good in our country. Those willing to sacrifice their own lives for my freedoms and for the preservation of those freedoms going forward…for my freedom to worship the way I choose….or my freedom to have these very thoughts….and yes my freedom to vote in an election! You know there is always a winner and a loser in every battle. I’ve been on both sides and I can tell you I like the winning side better! Rightfully so, it stings to lose and of course it feels personal. It feels personal when you lose because it causes us to look within ourselves at what we did wrong or what we could have done differently to change the outcome or maybe even why we did what we did? Anytime we have to take an inventory of our own actions it’s bound to feel personal. So maybe, just maybe November 11th had been chosen with healing in mind?
So, naturally I googled why November 11th? WARNING: I’m about to go all History buff (Gary Sims) on you! It turns out that in 1918 on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11:00 an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect. The end of World War I. ARMISTICE you say?? Geez, all this research – maybe if I had paid attention in history class I would not have to be rehashing this! Armistice is defined as a temporary cessation of hostilities! I’m pretty sure I call for an armistice at least once a day in my house. Whoosh – history lesson over, but seriously let that sink in!
A.Temporary. Cessation. Of. Hostilities.
As I watched my oldest son Jack perform this morning with his fellow Third Graders in the city’s Veteran’s Day Celebration, I had an overwhelming sense of unity and pride. I experienced a mini-armistice. I found my eyes brimming with emotional tears of joy, hope and love for a multitude of reasons….most obvious was my child…but secondarily and almost as prevalent today was the spirit of community. There were folks in suits, people in oilfield work boots, some who walked with canes and others who strolled up just as the program began. There were our friends in uniform and those who had taken time off from work to be in attendance. There were expectant mothers and single dads, administrators and employees. There were old friends and new friends. People who voted like me and people who didn’t. All gathered together, in one place…no weapons drawn, no hateful words spoken, no shouting, and no anger. Right there on 5th and Texas, we united around our Veterans – those who protect our country and our freedoms. We also united around our children as they honored the Veterans. I was thrilled to hear them sing The National Anthem, and Yankee Doodle, and there was even a song about American hearts. The beat behind it made my heart feel alive. I was proud of my city. I found myself dreaming for the future of my son and his classmates – their precious faces and souls; each with its own purpose and dreams. I was thankful for a school system that would bus my kid across town to participate in such a ceremony, take time out of mandated learning agendas to teach him patriotic music, and pay great teachers to be a strong influence in the lives of future generations. I was thankful for my country, for my granddad who was a veteran, and for the leaders some who I agree with and some who I do not. Right there, without conscious intention my soul declared its own armistice. It was so natural in that moment to focus on the things that unite us rather than what divides us. I think you too should declare an armistice today - maybe just in your own thoughts or maybe in your home - but an armistice none the less. Find common ground with fellow man – it might be easy and it might not but I think it’s worth it. I believe there is more that unites us than divides us!