Atlantic City, NJ
we remember the brave men and women
who have given their lives on the land, in the air, and upon the sea
in defense of our freedom and liberty,
from the minutemen killed at Lexington or Concord,
to the brothers killed from both the North and South in the Civil War,
from the greatest generation who gave their lives during World War II,
to the Active Duty troops and National Guard men and women
killed in Iraq and Afghanistan
Tomorrow, as we remember and memorialize those who have died,
may the day serve to memorialize them not through words engraved into stone
but gratitude burned into our hearts and minds.
God of earth, sea, and sky,
we also pray that you will guard the brave women and men
who are this very moment risking their lives for our country
as they serve in foreign lands.
Give them compassion for enemies who also fight for patriotic causes.
And keep our sons and daughters,
our husbands and wives,
and our brothers and sisters
from hate that hardens,
or from scorekeeping with human lives.
Though they must be at war, let them live for peace,
as eager for agreement as for victory.
Encourage them as they encourage one another,
and never let hard duty separate them
from loyalty to your Son, our Lord, Jesus the Christ.
Note: I have been using this prayer for some time, slightly redacted every year. I have been using it so long that I have perhaps lost touch with some its original sources. There are obvious allusions to the Navy Hymn, “Eternal Father, Strong to Save”, #562 in The Presbyterian Hymnal, as well as phrasing drawn from a prayer “For Those in the Military” #65 page 818 in the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship.