Students and faculty at West Lutheran High School in Plymouth gathered Nov. 10 – the Marine Corps birthday – to honor not only the Marine veterans in attendance, but all veterans and those currently serving in the military.
Gary Bain, West Lutheran’s religion and history teacher, addressed those in attendance, sharing how a veteran’s story begins with their first haircut and set of military uniforms.
“They will always be different. They will look at life differently from the person who has never been in the military,” Bain said.
“What they have seen, cannot be unseen. What they have done, cannot be undone,” he said. “It’s a part of them. They are veterans.”
“Veterans are God’s gift to the nation they have defended,” Bain told the students. “Give to these men and women what we owe them. If honor then honor,” Bain said, after reading a verse from scripture.
“By honoring our veterans today, we are honoring God,” he told them.
West Lutheran student Karl Taylor read the poem “The Unknown Soldier,” written by Billy Rose in honor of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington D.C. This monument serves as a reminder of those soldiers fought in World War I, World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam and whose remains were never recovered or unidentified.
The address was given by Isak Preus of Maple Grove, a 2014 West Lutheran alumni. Preus is studying history at the University of Minnesota and is a member of the Marine Corps ROTC program training to be a pilot.
Preus shared how the work of a veteran should never be forgotten, even during peacetime. “Our gratitude should never rest, just like our faith in God never ceases,” he said.
“God says that putting the life of your friend before your own, is the greatest form of love,” Preus said, after reading a verse from scripture. He invited the students to think of all the men and women in the country’s history, who were willing to lay down their lives for people they don’t even know. “Their sacrifice will never be forgotten,” he said. Preus then read the poem “It is the Soldier,” by Father Denis Edward O’Brien of the U.S. Marine Corps.
“It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.”
“Over the course of our nation’s history, roughly 57 million men and women have served in this country. Today we remember them,” Preus said.
“(We remember those) who have relinquished their rights in order to strengthen our rights and defend our freedom,” he said. “We also remember to show gratitude to the men [and women] serving us today, defending our freedom right now.”
In closing, Preus quoted Gen. George Patten: “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died, Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.”
Contact Kristen Miller at [email protected]