North Santa Rosa

Living with Purpose

The following is a speech given by Matt Dobson at Jay High School’s recent Veteran’s Day Program:
This morning you have the fortunate opportunity of getting out of class and coming to this assembly program. But even more than that, this morning we all have the opportunity to pay tribute to our Veterans. Veterans Day is November 11th, but today (5 days early) we pause to remember those who have been called upon to put their lives on the line for our country. We can think of those who died in the service of the nation and be grateful. After all, the giving of one’s life truly is “the last full measure of devotion”. But let’s do even more this morning, by remembering those that lived. Those who came home from the war also deserve more than a mere pat on the back. They deserve the salute of thankful countryman like you and me
You see those who have known war, up close, don’t forget it. Servicemen and women forge a fellowship together while facing the fire. They’ve had more occasion than most of you to ask themselves what it is that’s worth fighting for. What are the real values that must be defended? It’s a question we must all ask ourselves—what is it that makes our nation the greatest and best of the entire civilized world? The 30th President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, once said, “The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten” Royals, let’s not forget our veterans.
Many of them will tell you the most difficult aspect of wartime service in the armed forces, second only to fear of death, is the boredom. That’s right…boredom. It’s the feeling of being in limbo far away from home in a distant land; the dread of receiving bad news from home and not being able to do a thing about it…the death of a family member or a close friend; it’s longing for the freedoms of civilian life. But in almost every case, there’s joy and contentment in the plain old thought of “being home”. Consider the simple freedoms you enjoy every day. And consider those who have fought for your right to enjoy them.
You need to understand that veterans are not a separate class that is immune to the pull of strong emotions. But through discipline, sacrifice, and most of all love they have given of themselves as good citizens “called to duty”. Just in the last 10 years, we have had all too many occasions to create new veterans. We have had all too many occasions to ask our young people to risk that “last full measure of devotion”.
Perhaps the greatest honor we can pay for our veterans, living and dead, is best expressed in a quotation from President Abraham Lincoln: “It is for us, the living…to be dedicated here to the unfinished work that they have thus far so nobly advanced…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
Lincoln spoke those words on November 19, 1863, almost 150 years ago to the day. For some reason, November is a particular month of remembrance, the time when we give thanks as a people at Thanksgiving; the time when we commemorate the end of the first World War, when we—on election years, go to the polls to exercise the rights in defense of which so many veterans have worn the uniform, carried the flag, and fought the good fight. And WE need to be thankful for that.
But let’s not also forget, behind every veteran in the front line, there stood an anxious , gallant, and sacrificing family at home, hoping to have their husband, wife, son, daughter, aunt, uncle, cousin, or best friend return home safe. Some did, some didn’t. Our military servicemen and women have never been a separate entity here, perhaps because so many of us are veterans. In paying tribute to our veterans today, we are in fact paying tribute to the great heritage that we can all share…freedom and a humble pride in our country. I’m an American. You’re an American. We’re all Americans. Tell yourself that right now. Say it out-loud: “I am an American, I am an American, I am an American”.
Now what can YOU do? I’m going to tell you one thing. Look for a veteran, find a veteran, tell a veteran: “Thank you. Thank you for their service.” It’s my hope that you will find in your heart a spirit of thankfulness and let it be expressed in tangible ways to let the veterans who have fought for you…know you appreciate them. As a student, your resources are limited and you’re subject to all kinds of authority: the principal, parents, grandparents, those that provide for you. I can say this with all sincerity because I have a teenage son and daughter; you are a special generation with a monumental task of continuing to preserve our heritage for ages to come. I challenge you to not take things for granted. Be grateful. Be a good citizen. Simply be thankful for the things you have and don’t neglect to help someone when you see they need it. And should you feel the call to service; may you accept it with integrity, honor, and respect. God bless you, this school, and your family. And God bless the United States of America.
• This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a 1LT Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on Nov 10 2013. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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