By Jon Wren
For 101 years, every November 11 has been acknowledged worldwide in some way. It is known as Veterans Day in the United States, but was originally known as Armistice Day; the Armistice ended the Great War, now known as the First World War, in 1918. That global struggle lasted more than four years and resulted in millions of deaths. When the warring powers finally agreed to cease hostilities at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the world breathed a sigh of relief and hoped for a real and lasting peace.
That peace, however, came a few minutes too late for at least one Allied soldier. At 10:58 a.m. that day, a German sniper killed Canadian private George Price. The desire to have the last say overpowered the desire for peace.
The tragedy of the story points to an ugly truth in all of us. We all publicly pay lip service to peace and forgiveness, but deep down in our hearts, we crave something else. Beneath the surface for many of us is a desire for vengeance and vindication against the people who have hurt or wronged us.
Veterans Day can be an important counterbalance to the tension in our hearts between peace and revenge. Veterans Day honors men and women who have chosen self-sacrifice and service for others over their own wants and desires. The choice to die to oneself and live for others has its roots in Christ. The apostle Paul wrote about our Lord’s example:
Christ Jesus . . . did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8).
As we take Communion, let’s remember the desire for revenge leads only to more pain and suffering. But the work of Christ on the cross is the perfect example of service on behalf of others. The only way to true peace and forgiveness in eternal life is through our Lord’s sacrifice.
Jon Wren works with the Office of Civil Rights, addressing the impact of gentrification on school desegregation. He loves history, college football, and once got a ticket for driving too slowly.