On November 11, we observed Veterans Day.  This date was formerly known as Armistice Day, observing the end of World War I.  The Armistice was signed at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.

In those days, that war was called “The Great War” and “The War to End All Wars.”  Sadly, we learned that would not be true.  Still to come was a greater, more deadly war within about twenty years.  The human race never seems to learn.

And so we have soldiers, veterans.  We do need to honor them for their service.  I have always admired the discipline it takes to be a soldier, a Marine, a sailor, member of the Coast Guard.  When I happen to see service persons in uniform, I often stop to thank them for what they do.  I believe we should.

But at this time of Veterans Day, I am also sad that we have needed armies in the history of our country and the world.  So much violence, destruction, death.  Years ago, Pope St. Paul VI pleaded at the United Nations, “No more war!”  A sincere plea that has gone unheeded in many parts of the world.

So take a moment to honor and thank any veterans that you may know.  At the same time we hear the echo of the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”  Peace begins in the hearts and minds of us all.  Jesus gave the radical command, “Love your enemies.”  Those words still ring strange and against the way we usually think in the practical politics of the world.  How do we “love” people and countries who have great armies and stocks of weapons, just as does our country?  Are the words of Jesus just to ring hollow down through the centuries?

We come back to our minds and hearts.  Does peace lie there?  Is there peace within our own relationships, not to mention with any other country?  We open ourselves to the Prince of Peace and ask to find peace within, and we do what we can to find peace in our relationships and in our world.

Thank a veteran.  Pray for peace.  Be peace.

 – Fr. Tom Zelinski OFM Cap.