“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised” – 2 Samuel 22:2-4

It is a gift to learn the stories of others. Often we move throughout our day unaware of the stories carried by those we pass by. In Honolulu, and in our church we are surrounded by veterans. These veterans carry with them stories that continue to shape who and how they are in the world. They carry the legacy of their service and the conflicts they have been a part of. Many are proud to have served and to have played a part in preserving freedom. Some are carrying a legacy that includes unhealed wounds of the body, mind, or spirit. Some formed lifelong friendships and connections that they enjoy returning to while others have a relationship with their service that feels very complicated. All carry a legacy of serving this country and all veterans need to know they are supported and appreciated.

Today we come together around the words, “Thank you for your service.” Though these words will never go far enough to bring healing for some wounds, it is at least a way to acknowledge what veterans have given to us and to our nation.

So, this Veterans Day we say to our veterans, “Thank you for your service — and may the peace of God be with you.”

Veterans’ Day Prayer

God, we give you thanks today for our nation’s veterans. We lift them up in prayer today because of their dedication in service to our country. Generation after generation, young men and women have answered our country’s call. And as a result, their lives have been changed forever.

We are grateful to all who have served, whether in peacetime or in periods of conflict. But today we especially remember those who bear wounds of the body or the spirit as a result of what they endured.

They lie in our veterans’ hospitals or struggle for recovery in rehabilitation centers; they suffer from post-traumatic stress and survivor’s guilt; they yearn for peace in their souls.

Dear God, we ask you to heal their wounds, to banish whatever inner demons may haunt them, and to give them peace within so they may return fully to their families and to society.

We thank you, God, for all of our country’s veterans—those of past generations, and those who continue to earn this title today. May we never forget what our country has asked of them and what they have given in return. Help us to care enough to give them the respect and honor they are due. And strengthen our resolve to build a world modeled on your kingdom come, where war will be pursued no more.

This we ask in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Amen.

The Rev. John Gundlach is the UCC’s minister for government chaplancies and a retired Navy Chaplain of 27 years.