Veterans Day Ceremony: Message & Prayer


A few feet to the west of us is a significant memorial remembering eight innocent people who were murdered in Seal Beach on October 12, 2011. On October 12, a month ago, I joined family members and people of the community there on the 5th anniversary to reflect on that terrible day and console one another.

That was one act of terror against one community—our community. We owe our gratitude to the many first responders, fire and police, and to all who cared for survivors and the grieving.

There have been many domestic acts of terror against our nation—in the past year 16 died in San Bernardino and 49 died in Orlando due to Islamist terror. Again, we owe our gratitude to the first responders and all who provided care.

In today’s observance we have honored our veterans and I especially honor those in the military who risk their lives to protect us from terrorism at home and abroad so we may be safe and free.

Among the rights they protect is the right of protest. We may disagree with protestors, but we protect their right to peaceful, lawful protest. Many of us may strongly disagree with those who bow the knee instead of standing during the National Anthem, but service men and women have died to give them that right. I ask you—how many countries against whom we have fought would permit this kind of protest? How many cold war opponents would have permitted this protest?

My concern is when the protest creates a false expectation—as if others on a team have a moral obligation to show solidarity and join in. What do you do then, when another team member has a parent who serves in law enforcement or in the military, or has a family member injured or killed defending our rights?

Or what if another team member comes from an immigrant family that is grateful to this country that has given them so much? These want to stand tall during the National Anthem. Who will show solidarity with them?

On June 26, 1963, President John F. Kennedy stood at the Berlin Wall and told the huge crowd, “Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in.” We need to ponder his words anew.

Even as we sing, “America, America, God mend thine every flaw,” let’s stand tall in gratitude to God for all that is good and great about America and in gratitude to those who defend our precious rights, including all our veterans.

With me, I hope you will say,

I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land. God bless the U.S.A.


May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you
and give you peace.
And may God bless this wonderful country, America!

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