FORT HOOD, Texas, NOV. 11, 2009 (Zenit.org).- This week, Church leaders are remembering those who have died while serving their countries in the armed forces, particularly those who were killed in the recent Fort Hood massacre.
Today’s celebration in the United States of Veterans’ Day, also known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, honors the sacrifices of military personnel as well as civilians in times of war.
This year, the day held a poignant sorrow for those of the Fort Hood community, where, last Thursday, 13 people were killed on the military base by a gunman, Major Nidal Hasan, 39.
Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Military Services issued a statement, expressing his “pain and solidarity with all of the victims of the dreadful incident.”
“In addition to our prayers for the deceased and the wounded, our hearts go out to the families who have suffered the terrible consequences of this heartless massacre,” he wrote. “Once again the shadow of death and suffering has struck the innocent who were at the service of our country.”
The prelate reported that two Catholic chaplains spent all night after the tragedy ministering to those involved. He offered a prayer for those responsible for the killings, and called for a greater commitment to building peace and understanding.
“We cannot allow violence to engender more violence,” the archbishop said.
Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas affirmed the same message: “We must also pray for an end to the senseless violence that plagues our country.
“Let us pray that God will change the hearts and minds of those who contemplate such violent acts and that through his grace, they will find peace.”
In England, where Remembrance Sunday is celebrated a few days before the Nov. 11 anniversary of the end of World War I, Bishop Richard Moth of the Forces presided over a Solemn Requiem Mass for the Fallen in London’s Westminster Cathedral.
In his homily, he acknowledged: “The death of a loved one is never easy to bear — but when life is lost at a young age, far from home and family, it is all the more difficult to accept.
“Even though the cause for which the service man or woman died may be a just one, the suffering of family and friends is indeed great.”
The prelate paid tribute to the many people who through the years “left family and friends” and “made what is so often named ‘the ultimate sacrifice.'”
The bishop continued: “They have laid down their lives for others — for the sake of national security, for the safety of family and all they hold dear, for the friend in their ship’s company, platoon, regiment, squadron.
“Sometimes, the reasons for the sacrifice may not be so clear — but we remember today the willingness of those who have put their lives on the line and literally given all.”
He remembered in a special way those who came back alive from combat, but “with the scars of warfare,” as well as the soldiers’ families and friends who “are called, in their own way, to give their lives.”
Bishop Moth concluded by stating that the greatest act of remembrance “for those who have given their lives in war, the best witness and support we can give to those who bear the scars of conflict, either as service personnel or their families, is to strive for justice and truth — for justice and truth drive out fear and are the foundations for lasting peace.”