As I write, tomorrow will be another Veteran’s Day here in the US of A. This day always sets many emotions deep in my soul as memories of sights, sounds, and smells of another time and place flood my senses. Yes, smells or aromas. Ask any veteran of any war in any nation and they will remember the smell or smells. There may be many responses when asked, but some will be sulfur, gasoline and laundry detergent, gunpowder, smoke, death, blood, decay, fear, diesel, heat and humidity, and of course odors of others near and far. I have a keen memory of what I smelled like after many, many, many days in high temperatures (often above 130 degrees) and high humidity and in the same clothes. Bathing was always a welcome thing, but the aromas never washed away. Freedom for the many has a price to be paid by the few.
I won’t speak of the many sounds that come to mind, but I will mention that for years after discharge, my mind would hear loud explosions as I drove my car around the crowded streets of Orange County. I remember that I could never find a trigger for these explosive sounds, and they would come randomly. When I heard these ghostly roars, I tightened up expecting another vehicle running into mine trying to avoid the incomings. But alas, as I looked around, no one seemed to hear what I was hearing. Thankfully, the sounds and smells only come to mind with certain topics of conversation, and Veteran’s Day.
Veteran’s Day is an honorable day to celebrate those who have served and survived for the sake of freedom. Please, honor the veteran. Say words of appreciation. Buy lunch for some. Give a pleasant, knowing smile. Vets have earned and continue to earn rewards of thankfulness for what they have endured. But respect the emotions you may encounter.
I am proud to be a veteran for America. However, my greatest service to this great land and the world is to serve my Creator, Savior, and LORD Jesus Christ. I have served the LORD’s army for 44 years so far.
A few years ago, I was privileged to select and train a group of prayer warriors to take to Vietnam for prayerwalking throughout the country. Being a veteran, it felt both strange and good to be able to return with spiritual weapons instead of physical weapons. I had selected two other veterans to be among those on the team with me.
I will never forget the sights and emotions we three veterans were experiencing and displaying as the wheels of our plane hit the runway of the airport in Saigon, the former Tan Son Nhut Air Base. Upon looking out the windows of the plane as we were taxiing, we saw the cadavers of some of our US aircraft sitting on the tarmac. I could not help but make eye contact with the other vets; we were all three crying. Our emotions ran high as we wondered how different this return trip might be.
As it turned out, this mission for the LORD in this country became a healing hospital for each of the three of us veterans of the Vietnam War, and God blessed our faithfulness by allowing us to direct more than 250 into their salvation experiences by the Spirit of God.
God bless all our veterans, tomorrow, and all tomorrows!