When I was younger I remember going to the Tomb of the Unknown solider. I was too young to appreciate what it meant and spent much of the time profoundly bored, wondering how many more days it would be before we could go home and I could play Nintendo. Everyone was so quiet in front of the tomb, especially considering there wasn’t actually anyone buried there.
The monuments we build in the aftermath of battle reflect what a culture finds important. For all of its foibles, the United States is a nation built of and for its people, and nowhere is that shown more perfectly than in the way we memorialize those people who’ve died for it. The Tomb of the Unknown Solider is our country’s way of saying the unidentified will not be forgotten; that we appreciate each drop of blood and sweat spent in service to us.
The Tomb is important to Americans because it represents our remembrance of those who gave their lives for our freedom. Yet the tomb can be important to Christians too. It also stands as a sobering reminder that our service on this earth rarely ends in accolades and medals. Sometimes it ends in obscurity, and it’s only the truly humble that will take walk that path.
Jesus talked a lot about serving one another. He stated that:
It is this picture of service that we should strive for: laying down our lives expecting nothing except to be counted last and among Christ’s chosen. And while not every solider goes into service with a selfless attitude, far more do than we give them credit most of the time.
Earlier this year my family laid my grandfather to rest in an Army cemetery. They gave him a 21-gun salute with all the pomp and circumstance he deserved. He served in World War II and lived a long and generally happy life full of love of his family and country.
Unless you’re cognizant of it, Veteran’s Day could just be yet another of those annoying days during which the post office is closed, and the Tomb one of those things you just have to be quiet around—which is a shame, because spending a day and giving a place to honor our servicemen and women is ultimately a small matter. Today is the one time we stop to say thanks for doing the unenviable job of serving us. Even the one’s who might never be known by name.
What veterans are in your life? What are you doing to celebrate them?