I was able to take part in honoring our Veterans in a program presented by the Southern Utah Heritage Choir entitled, “Song for the Unsung Hero”. After the presentation of the Colors by the Marine Corps League, my choir sang a series of beautiful patriotic songs and one choir member shared a very touching poem by her father, “A Soldier’s Prayer”. In my blog today, I will share what the meaning of Veteran’s Day is to me and how we can all sing the song for the unsung hero.
Singing in a choir is really a unified prayer. I shall never forget the healing balm of Gilead I received while singing in my choir for Veteran’s day in the aftermath of 911; the feelings that enveloped my soul of peace and comfort continue to burn within my heart. I have so much admiration, honor and love for our men and women serving in the armed forces and our family prays for them daily. My grandfather served in WWI and both my father and mother-in-law were in the airforce. Have you ever prayed for peace, for our country’s freedoms and for our military? Many prayers have been offered and will continue to be offered in behalf of the service men and woman. One very touching prayer was penned during combat conditions in the WWII Battle of the Bulge:
A Soldier’s Prayer by Sgt. Russell Gilbert
In a lonely little outpost
Across the River Rhine
There waits a weary soldier
A soldier of the line.
There is no beauty around him
As he keeps his lonely guard
For the trees are all stripped
And the ground is battle scarred.
He thinks about his loved ones
The ones who really care
And wonders if the lord has heard
His fervent frequent prayer.
Dear Lord, please give me courage
In the battle which lies ahead
Take away my weaknesses
And grant me strength instead.
Gird my soul with armor
Against the sights I’ll see
That they won’t darken my spirit
Nor linger in my memory.
Return me to my loved ones
After this battle is done
And may we never lose again
The Peace that we have won.
The prayer is not a new one,
It is in fact quite old
For it has been repeated
By many a soldier bold.
I pray it will be the last time
This prayer need ere be spoken
May all wars vanish from this earth
And no more hearts be broken
Veteran’s Day came just two days prior to, what France called, “The most bloodshed since WWII”, when terrorists attacked various venues in Paris on a blood thirsty rampage killing over one hundred innocent people; I do not know what this war is called, but I call it a new-age WWIII.
In France, there are thousands of families with broken hearts who are grieving the sudden shock of lost loved ones in this tragic and horrific event in Paris. This new war has no boundaries, attacks no one country and works in the shadows. These foes hide their identities and live amongst us, waiting for their “calling” to receive their advancement to a “higher” life with their “God” by killing (sacrificing) themselves while taking lives; a reminiscence of ancient holy wars when religion was the driving force.
We are in a holy war, similar to the crusades, like we read about in our history classes. How do such barbaric people exist today with all our modern advancements and knowledge of former brutalities? How do we protect ourselves and our countries while living peaceful lives, being able to go out in the public sector freely? What kind of soldiers can protect us from this kind of war? Where can we be safe in today’s world? These questions and a million more are going through everyone’s minds around the globe. What is a holy war and can we fight it?
“The first holy war was probably in October 312 CE when the Roman emperor Constantine saw a vision of the cross in the sky with this inscription “in hoc signo vinces” (in this sign you will win). He had a cross inscribed on the soldiers armor. Then, ‘The great series of western holy wars were the crusades which lasted from 1095-1291 CE. Pope Urban II in 1095 said the following:
Let this be your war-cry in combats, because this word is given to you by God. When an armed attack is made upon the enemy, let this one cry be raised by all the soldiers of God: It is the will of God! It is the will of God!
..Whoever shall determine upon this holy pilgrimage and shall make his vow to God to that effect and shall offer himself to Him as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, shall wear the sign of the cross of the Lord on his forehead or on his breast.’
The first Crusade captured Jerusalem after bitter fighting, and the residents of the city were brutalised and slaughtered by the Christian invaders. The invaders’ conduct breached the principles of modern just war ethics, and the massacres still colour Islamic politics today.” BBC-Ethics guide
I think we can all agree why we are in a “new war” resembling old crusades. While thinking of the thousands of young men being recruited for this new war, the words of Alexander Hamilton come to mind, “Those who stand for nothing fall for anything”. There still exists vexing scars among some extreme Islamic people: people driven to act as Don Quixote’s; blindly (ignorantly for some) righting the wrongs of ancient Christians. As a prophet sear and revelator, Joseph Smith saw this day coming including all of the wars beginning from the revolutionary war down to the last war as described in section 87 of the Doctrine and Covenants which reads:
6 And thus, with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine, and plague, and earthquake, and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations;
Ever since the event in Paris, the words “STAND YE IN HOLY PLACES” have taken place in my head. What do these words mean? There are many layers of meaning within that phrase, but in my opinion, it symbolically represents all Christians becoming unified, standing together while singing the song for the unsung hero: Let us sing for unsung heroes, those who lay their dreams aside, choosing honor more than glory pledging faith with quiet pride. Those whose uniform is courage, yet are unashamed of tears, finding in their love of freedom power stronger than their fears. Joseph M. Martin
People of our world and nation have no chance to stand up to this “new war” without a belief in God. The freedoms at our fingertips are falling through the cracks where our religious beliefs are concerned; where our national moral fiber’s are disintegrating and where no soldier can protect us from ourselves. Religion is the new regiment; we are the soldiers and God is our commander-in-chief. At this time, can we ask ourselves, “is there is anything in this world I would be willing to die for because I believe it is worth giving my all”?.
The soldier is each one of us all enlisted in a great holy war. If our foes are willing to sacrifice their lives for their “Gods”, we have to fight with the same purpose except our God is the Father of light and love who would not require murder as a token of our faith but to reciprocate his light and love as his son, Jesus Christ, taught us to do. Our sacrifice needs to be our willingness to let down our pride; to become the unsung hero less we be forced to our knees and humbled like the people in France. We need to believe in a higher cause by returning to God and by standing in holy places.