Armed Forces Day 2022
Flag season begins in our local community on the third Saturday of May, what is called Armed Forces Day. Between Armed Forces and Veterans Days, there are eleven other days, holidays and elections days, that patriotic members of our local community prominently display the American flag throughout the community. They do so to help us remember that these days are special for our nation, set apart on purpose. While this flag tradition has been going on for sixty years in Henry County, Indiana, the original idea for Armed Forces Day came from President Harry S. Truman in 1949. Much of the original intent for this holiday, and many others, has been lost throughout the generations.
Armed Forces Day was intended to inform the citizens of our nation of the necessary work that all branches of the military do to ensure the peace of the nation. While there was this educational component to the day, it was also designed to be a chance to celebrate the commitment and sacrifices of the members of the Armed Forces, whether Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard, who had suffered, and were willing to suffer, again, for the purpose of peace.
As we celebrate Armed Forces Day, may we take a moment to reflect on the commitment and sacrifices it takes to be a successful warrior in each of the five branches of the US Armed Forces, and learn how to apply that reflection to our Christian lives as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. This is near and dear to my heart as a pastor because I am also a veteran. As a 1996 West Point graduate and veteran of the US Army, I am proud of my time spent in the 82nd Airborne Division as an infantry platoon leader in D Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), as well as my time training as a soldier-athlete in the US Army’s World Class Athlete Program. Having spent time in the Armed Forces, I understand the life of commitment and sacrifices it takes to serve honorably and with distinction.
Paul exhorts his protégé in 2 Timothy 2:3-5, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.”
Along with the athletic imagery, which I wrote about in Live Like a Champion Today, the soldier imagery was also a favorite of the Apostle Paul. Here are three other usages of it from Paul’s writings in the New Testament:
1) 1 Corinthians 9:7. “Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?”
2) Philippians 2:25. “But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need.”
3) Philemon 1b-2. “To Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house.”
As a follower of Jesus Christ, you are not a part-time employee; rather, you are an active-duty soldier. You are on “active service” to Jesus Christ, meaning, this is your priority, and nothing can be allowed to compete against it as your top priority. Therefore, you have been enlisted to train as a member of an elite rapid-deployment unit who must be ready in season and out of season to go on mission for God.
Christians are called to live with the same commitment and same willingness to suffer for the mission that our members of the US Armed Forces have demonstrated for generations. This is the theme of my current book project, yet to be named, which is forecasted to be completed in the Spring of 2023. May you train to live on mission today, just as we honor the men and women of the Armed Forces today, who continue to train every day for the peace of our nation, just as our forefathers have for generations before us.
Please join me in praying for the member of our Armed Forces and for the peace of the nations. Until the Lord returns, may we remain vigilant and live on mission for God’s glory as good soldiers of Christ Jesus.