November 6, 2013: Living Veterans

~by Father Ron Camarda

Even though November is the month when we remember those who have died, there is something to be said about the living.  Memorial Day is when we remember all Veterans whom have died. On the other hand, Veterans Day (November 11) is a time to remember and honor all Veterans who live after serving, precisely because they have lived.

Once a veteran, always a veteran. All veterans take an oath similar to a marriage covenant. Divorces or annulments of their status as a veteran are almost unheard of. In fact many veterans are the fiercest fighters for the end of all wars and for abiding peace, precisely because they are committed to protecting their beloved country against all enemies foreign or domestic. (even if the enemy is within our souls)

“I, a Veteran of the United States of America, promise to be faithful to you, My Beloved Country, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will honor and love you all the days of my life.”

Lately I have been struggling with my next book, TEAR IN MY SOUL, which is an attempt to discover the truth and flesh of our souls. I have journeyed and written in my journals since I graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy over 30 years ago.  I have written about that sacred time just before death of hundreds of people. That is probably the reason that all the doors opened for me to be called to serve with the Marines in Iraq against all odds. God knew I would be a great witness to these astonishing living moments before death. I have been doing it most of my life.

Susi Pittman raises and attempts to answer the question about whether animals are in heaven. In the weeks and maybe months ahead, I thought it would be worth sharing about people I believe are in Heaven.  I have loved them all and I truly don’t believe that I could ever outdo God in compassion and love. Hang on as we take this incredible journey together to discover a tear or two in our souls if we glimpse a loved one in heaven.

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In honor of Veteran’s Day, this story comes from my time as a parochial vicar at St. Catherine’s in Orange Park. I had been called to lead a funeral service for a Veteran who wasn’t attached to any particular church. Who am I to judge?

Maurice

What do I know about Maurice except that he died August 3, 1998?

Maurice was a sailor and soldier, a husband, father, brother, grandfather and son.

He lived 76 years

He must have been a friend and an acquaintance

The sea is magical and peaceful

I know the touch of a sunrise or sunset at the core of my being

Those who sail on the seas or deploy know the longing,

for the source of the breathless celestial transits,

for the mystery of the loneliness

the desire for loved ones

the need for home

even when home is somewhat broken

Veterans know the camaraderie of a troop or battalion or ship

the fall of a shipmate or death of a buddy

All these are part of living

If we always waited for the trip, voyage or deployment to end or the hump to cease,

we may never live the life we were given

If our only goal in life were to make it

to Eagle Scout or Scout Master or CEO,

how empty would be the journey?

the adventure?

the voyage of eternity?

Maurice, Dad, Granddad, Friend…

We will meet you in the moments,

the breaking of our hearts

and  in the remembering of the voyage

Sail on!

March on!

Right on!

God bless our Veterans. Let’s pray for lasting peace only Jesus can give us. After the Battles of Gethsemane, Golgotha and Death, Jesus stood before us even though the doors were locked and said, “Peace be with you.” And then he showed them his hands and sides. At the sight of the Lord the disciples rejoiced? He said it again, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive each other’s sins, they are forgiven. If you hold them bound, then they will remain bound.”

Love, joy, peace,

Father Ron Moses +

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Father Ron Camarda is a retired Naval Chaplain and author of “Tear in the Desert,” a powerful book containing his memoirs of life and death at the Battle for Fallujah. Father Ron appears on EWTN and recently won the Silver Medal from the Military Writers Society of America.

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