Ebenezer Dow was born in 1737 in Essex County, Massachusetts Colony. He married Elizabeth Danforth in 1760, and they proceeded to have nine children over the next 14 years. His youngest was born when Ebenezer was 37, on April 1, 1775.
18 days later, Ebenezer “stood on line” with 2,000 other minutemen and 3,500 militia as they lined the road from Concord back to Lexington, and then finally Boston. As the British marched the road, the colonists hid behind trees and rocks and such, and ambushed and sniped at the army, bedeviling them all the way back to Boston. The redcoats far outnumbered the colonists, and frankly were better shots, but the minutemen still manage to kill or wound over 250 British on their tortured march back to their headquarters. It was seen afterwards as a victory for the colonists, who were able to stand up against the British, granted, using guerilla tactics instead of the typical European rules of battle.
Ebenezer died years later, at age 80. He was my great-great-great-great great grandfather, and his family came over to America in 1637 to Massachusetts Bay by his great-grandfather, Henry Dow, and so began one line of my family’s participation in the American dream. Ebenezer was not the first American veteran in my family, as others fought in the French and Indian Wars and in other wars with nations and tribes wanting to take over the settlements and towns that had become the homes of the colonists.
Over the next 245 years, dozens and dozens of my family – mostly men – served their country at different terms of enlistments over every single war fought by the United States. I have a letter written by a female ancestor to her brother, enlisted in the Union army in 1863, where she asks all sorts of questions about his health and activities. “We” fought in the later Indian Wars and the Spanish-American War. My grandfather fought in World War 1, and my father served nearly 29 years in both the Navy in World War 2, and in the Air Force after that, even to Vietnam.
My brother served in the Gulf War, and my nephew served in the Iraqi Freedom campaign. I grew up only knowing life lived on an Air Force base, with all the wonderful opportunities, and the necessary regulations that were just part of that kind of life.
And so today, I honor my veteran relatives, and everyone else’s relatives who served our country, and helped keep this land and this nation free. Of course, we know that November 11th was originally Armistice Day – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – the time when the truce, or armistice – a word coming from arma “arms” and sistere “come to stop” – brought the eventual cessation of fighting. In 1954, after two more wars, the veterans of the USA urged that the day be changed to “All Veterans Day” to celebrate the sacrifice of the soldiers who served after World War One as well. It was later changed to simply “Veterans Day.” The word “veteran” by the way means in Latin, veteranus, “old, aged, long in use.” Old soldiers were to be revered and honored.
As I mentioned, Dad fought in the Vietnam War, and after he returned, the military families were warned not to display any evidence of that – Dad was ordered not to wear his military uniform except on base. There was a harsh and strident conflict over the war, and the veterans were often mistreated, rather than honored.
How different is has become with the new “habit” of civilians responding to veterans with “Thank you for your service,” and greeting soldiers coming home at airports and other locations with flags and cheers. In my mind, it’s the least we can do.
So, Veterans – I would not cheapen the military conduct and tradition by saying “I salute you” – the salute is meant to be shared within the ranks of those who have served. Instead, I will thank God for you, and for the gift you have given to our country, and to me and my family, and to this world as hopefully our fighting has meant to bring peace, to bring justice and to bring a way of living that is founded in safety and respect. Please accept our gratitude, and indeed – thank you for your service.
Word for the day: sacrifice. Pronounced, as you know, SACK-ruh-fiyss. It’s a common word, that we usually think of meaning, “giving away a huge part of something for the sake of others.” Especially in war or military service, the soldier gives away his/her personal freedom in order to serve the greater good, through discipline and the willingness to offer however much of their lives as necessary.
The word itself is that, and more. From Latin, it’s actually a religious word. Sacrus/sacra means, of course, “sacred” and facere means “to make or do.” A sacrifice, therefore, is a “sacred making” as you or I by our actions and our devotion, turn our work from simply something that gets done, into a powerful expression of making a sacred act, and making this world more holy through what we do. You see, a sacrifice isn’t something I do for you, or anyone does for me – it is a gift to God, as we claim to live more holy through our words, actions and even thoughts. Think of a sacrifice you can make today…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.