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11.11.11 Pastor Joe Dokken

Having served in the United States Air Force from 1981 to 1985 along with many others at Hawthorne Assembly, we have the special classification of being known as “Veterans”. Friday was the official day when Americans celebrated and honored those who served in the United States Armed Forces- here is a quick history lesson. Veterans Day is to honor all who have served in the military, Memorial Day is to honor those who died in military service and Armed Forces Day honors those who currently serve in the US military. No matter the specifics, these days where we recognize men and women connected to our military are well worth remembering and celebrating. Whether you served or did not should not stop any American from participating.

During my four years, only twice did I carry a gun- during basic training and qualifying for marksmanship. This week at Willmar provided the discovery of a 16-gauge side-by-side shotgun used by me more often going pheasant hunting or pass shooting Wood ducks on Solomon Lake. Without diminishing my career or the bravery of other veterans, the most dangerous part of my military career was working with radiation equipment in our calibration laboratory.

As we reflect on the 103rd anniversary of Veterans Day, we should be aware of what it means to those of us who served in our U.S. armed forces. Let me clarify something about this century-plus anniversary of Veterans Day: technically today is the 68th anniversary of “Veterans Day” which was officially named-changed from “Armistice Day” which started in 1919. It was, and is, a sacred holiday to remember the end of WW1. President Woodrow Wilson felt it was important to recognize the ending of the war on this specific date November 11, 1918.

The reason Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11th has everything to do with the number 11. It is a sequence of 11’s it began with the cessation of all major hostilities in WW1 on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. During our worship service today we will be honoring the veterans within our congregation- Reverently we honor those who are no longer with us who gave the ultimate sacrifice “their lives” during military conflict, others died prematurely because of complications associated with their military service.

For Janet and I this year is extra meaningful as we honor her father retired Chief Master Sergeant Elmer Jackson Kirkpatrick who just passed away 4 weeks ago. He served in United States Air Force for 30 years with great distinction. My father retired Senior Master Sergeant James Leo Dokken of the United States Air Force served for 22 years. Six years ago, at this time, Janet’s parents, herself, Aaron and I were sitting in the Sight and Sound theater in Branson Missouri watching the “Joseph” production. Gathered around us where many hundreds of service men and women. It was such a wonderful experience to have individuals 30 to 40 years older than me, thank me, for my military service.

Here is my challenge and take away from this article; be thankful, show your gratitude to the individual who wears a Vietnam veteran ball cap or some military insignia. Let them know they are appreciated and not only on a day like today, but throughout the year. Please take a moment and thank them for their willingness to serve in the Armed Forces which ultimately gives us the amazing opportunity to be here today and to worship God freely and as many of us just did we went to the polls and voted. Side note: the election is over and now that we know most of the results one can assume it did not turn out the way you we’re hoping for all your candidates. Nevertheless, let’s find reasons to be thankful and let’s find reasons to appreciate one another. Most assuredly your words of thanks to somebody today will be the greeting they needed to hear. Thank You Veterans!


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