Ralph is an ex-serviceman from Kalamazoo, Michigan
Another Memorial Day has come and gone. Across our great nation the President, the Governors of the States, and locally the Mayors of our cities have issued their proclamations concerning the observance of the day. They plead that the day be spent attending church services and praying for peace for the world. But this peace that they speak of is not the Peace that we as Protestant Reformed people hope and pray for.
To many people Memorial Day is just another day, and others join the world in celebration and fun. Yes, we, too, feel the effects of this celebrating only in a more reverent way. We as veterans of World War II also think back on our service rendered, and many of our memories are focused on those of our congregation who did not return to our homeland, but were called from the fields of battle by our Father in Heaven to their home in Glory.
But I am not supposed to be writing a theme on Memorial Day. I am supposed to be writing of my attitudes and convictions toward and derived from my military service.
It was the last part of March 1941 when I received my greetings from the President of the United States, to report on April 6th for induction into the Army of the United States. I was the first of our congregation in Kalamazoo to receive such a greeting. Those days were not happy ones as we by nature look at them, but it was God’s way for us. It was not the fact that our friends and neighbors had selected us, nor that our number was drawn from a bowl in Washington, nor the act of Congress that sought to defend this country from the aggressions of the nations already at war then, but it was a purpose of our Almighty God and the reasons are for Him to know and for us to obey.
So we left our homes, our loved ones, and we were sent to various camps where we were tempted daily by worldly leaders, activities and other evils. We left our Christian circles to become surrounded by the children of Evil. It was a hard struggle but our colors must always be kept before us. We were not merely soldiers of the United States Army, but also soldiers of the Cross.
The days, months and years of training while our country was yet at peace with the world were not so bad generally speaking. We could attend church services in Camp or in neighboring towns each Sabbath Day. At various times groups of various denominations met regularly to discuss the Scriptures together, but even these groups disappeared with the moving of troops here and there.
Then came the days that all servicemen and their families wanted least of all to come. The day of embarkation, when we had to leave the shores of our country. The coming days seemed dark. The battle sounds echoes around the world, and we were afraid, but yet there was something we as Christians had that our fellow servicemen did not have. We had peace of mind in that all things are well with those who fear the Lord. Yes, the battle came still closer; it claimed the lives of our friends. But for those who died fearing God, their reward is the Everlasting Peace.
Now we have returned home again and have tried to forget the terrible past. We are happy to be able to participate in Society and other phases of Church activities again. Yet, there are those empty seats of those whom God has chosen to go before us into Glory, to the Peace that He has prepared for us. In that way we too have Memoirs, not only on Memorial Day, but every day.
I think I can speak for all of our ex-servicemen when I say we are thankful for the efforts of Beacon Lights in getting the reading material we desired to us wherever we were. May God further bless the efforts of that most worthy cause.
Think On These Things
Whatsoever things are true,
Whatsoever things are honest,
Whatsoever things are just,
Whatsoever things are pure,
Whatsoever things are lovely,
Whatsoever things are of good report;
If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.