Nov. 21 sermon
This is a very personal sermon. I mention the gospel near the end—but it comes from me.
This week was Veterans Day.
I want to tell you about my father, who served in World War Two.
My father grew up on a turkey farm in Monroe County, West Virginia. He finished the eight grade at his local school and then had to go to a boarding school, but dropped out after a few months.
In spite of that, as I look back, he was one of the wisest men I ever knew. (I just wish I had recognized his wisdom when I was a child! But what child does that?)
He left the farm and moved to McDowell County to be a coal miner.
A funny aside: on the farm his family never ate the cash crop so my father had never tasted turkey. At a boarding house for unmarried coal miners, he told the cook, “that was the best chicken I’ve ever tasted.”
She told him it wasn’t chicken, it was turkey, but he wouldn’t believe her until she took him in the kitchen and showed him the carcass. He’d been told growing up that turkey didn’t taste good except to stupid city people!
He joined the army by lying about his age (he was too old to enlist) and spent the early part of the war in England and was part of the invasion of Normandy. By then, he was in the Engineers and spent the rest of the war building bridges across Europe so Gen Patton could drive his tanks across them. “Then,” he told me, “we would blow the bridges up because Patton said ‘we’re not coming back!’”
That was the only thing he told me about the war though I begged for stories. I’m sure most of his memories were too painful to recall.
He did come home, though many he knew did not, and became my father and a life-long member of the VFW.
Things are not good these days for many veterans. You can buy a coat at Ocean States Job Lots down the road and give it back for a gift certificate and the coat will go to a homeless veteran. People who risked their lives for us are homeless!!!
The GI Bill did not pay Black veterans of WW II at the same level as White veterans.
John Anderson, one of my oldest and closest friends, is a psychologist at The Veterans Hospital in West Haven. He spends his days counseling veterans with psychological problems in person or on zoom. Many have serious issues.
Their lives, like the Temple in today’s Gospel, are in ruins.
There is so much more that needs to be done for the men and women who served to keep our lives safe.
In God’s name, we must seek to help them.