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Between Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day...

As I write this (Thursday evening) I'm still on a bit of a high from a full-of-wonder evening last night, when Mary and I hosted, at the Rectory, a Veterans Day dinner.

We were delighted to welcome 35 people for dinner -- veterans and their spouses, plus volunteers who were enthusiastic to "serve those who served" in this way. 

After our meal, and over dessert and coffee, I invited each veteran, beginning with the most recent and working our way back to the most senior, to stand, say their name and branch of service, their time served, and then to share one story.

As we listened, we received a mini history lesson in the armed conflicts of our nation. It started with a parishioner who fought in the Battle of Fallujah in 2004. It ended with a parishioner who, as a senior in high school, was on his way back from a Christmas pageant rehearsal on December 6, 1941 when he switched the car radio on and heard that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, forever altering the trajectory of his life. In between we heard inspirational and poignant stories of virtually every war and conflict our nation experienced in the 60+ intervening years. 

As I shared in my "The Best Posture of this Country" sermon in early September of this year, my mother, a Bulgarian, was liberated by Patton's Third Army during World II, and immigrated here under the Displaced Persons Act which was passed by the United States Congress in 1949. Which is at least part of the reason that a) I look for ways to honor and thank veterans and b) I will always speak out in defense of immigrants and refugees -- the "tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breath free" -- people whom our country, when it is not sinking into demagoguery and fear-mongering, has long welcomed and benefited from.

As we transition from Veterans Day to Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks for those who took their turn in years past standing watch, and for who do so today. I also give thanks for those who -- following the consistent command of God in Holy Scripture -- welcome the stranger and open their hands wide to the needy and poor.

Between Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day, may we not take our freedom, safety, and good fortune for granted, and may we translate our feelings of gratitude into concrete actions of thanks-giving and generosity.

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