Scars of Service


At the beginning of this month we take time to give thanks for those who have served in our nation's armed forces. It is one of two days in the year where we acknowledge that gift. But wait a minute I am missing a day, but I will talk more about that later.


When do we take time to be thankful for our scars? Why should we be thankful for them? Because they have made us who we are as people, as families and as a nation. My Mother has scars on her body from bringing my brother and I to be her children. My Husband and I have scars though not outwardly visible from the first year of our marriage, because of awful medication side effects. Yet those scars are beautiful because they are part of what makes my life what it is.


Our country has scars from wars, uprisings, and conflicts. Yet, some would sooner erase those scars then find a way to add context to them. Some would rather we never see them, while others would wrongly elevate them. While I agree that men who were traitors to the country should not be praised, I also think that it does us a disservice to ignore those scars and those uncomfortable times in the history that made this great nation. Do we honestly "never forget" what happened on 9/11?


November is a time to recognize the mistakes we made in our treatment of another culture, yet our minds are filled with politics (and doing our Civic duty to this nation), pumpkin pie, and sales on things for Christmas. So often Thanksgiving day is spent momentarily on giving thanks and the rest of the time socializing, eating good food and watching football.


The first Thanksgiving was not so peaceful. We do a disservice to ignore the scars left on a community most of us do not belong to. We idolize and rewrite the lives of the pilgrims and those who were here first when we think that the first thanksgiving was peaceful and bloodshed free. If you want a more in-depth scholarly work you can see my husband's blog article, This Land Is Their Land.


Yet much like now, Thanksgiving day has not always been such a dark day.


". . . . in 1789, Elias Boudinot, Massachusetts, member of the House of Representatives, moved that a day of Thanksgiving be held to thank God for giving the American people the opportunity to create a Constitution to preserve their hard won freedoms. A Congressional Joint Committee approved the motion, and informed President George Washington. On October 3, 1789, the President proclaimed that the people of the United States observe "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer" on Thursday, the 26th of November. . . . Most of the credit for the establishment of an annual Thanksgiving holiday may be given to Sarah Josepha Hale. Editor of Ladies Magazine and Godey's Lady's Book, she began to agitate for such a day in 1827 by printing articles in the magazines. She also published stories and recipes, and wrote scores of letters to governors, senators, and presidents. After 36 years of crusading, she won her battle. On October 3, 1863, buoyed by the Union victory at Gettysburg, President Lincoln proclaimed that November 26, would be a national Thanksgiving Day, to be observed every year on the fourth Thursday of November." (1)


Yet, we are in a war. "We are met on a great battle field of that war." (2) The war may not have visible scars immediately. But do we take time to acknowledge the gift one Soldier gave us?


There is one Soldier who does not get honored with the rest for his scars. His gift is a far greater and long lasting expression of his love for us. These scars grant us the gift of everlasting life. Yes, there are days set aside to recognize that gift but shouldn't we take time every day to acknowledge his scars?

"But he was wounded because of our crimes,

crushed because of our sins;

the disciplining that makes us whole fell on him,

and by his bruises we are healed." (3)


As we prepare for Christmas, let us not forget to take time to say "Thank You".


Footnotes:

(1) Thanksgiving in North America: From Local Harvests to National Holiday

(2) Transcript of the Gettysburg Address from PBS

(3) Isaiah 53:5 Complete Jewish Bible Translation accessed from Bible Gateway