Everything is changing. Some people like it, some don’t. As you get older (which unfortunately I seem to be doing despite my best efforts to the contrary) change is something that often gets more difficult to accept.
But never mind, because whether you approve of or accept change or not, it’s always happening and always will, long after you and I are gone. It is of course the nature of life. And, against despite what many try and tell us, change is often cyclical. Issues, outlooks, opinions are faddish. They come and go. Like the natural cycles we see in the weather, animal migration, etc. things tend to move in cycles that bring change in a way that can be surprisingly predictable at times.
So, while you might like the world to stop so that you can get off, it’s not stopping. No worries there, however, as you will be departing this life soon enough! And of course that’s a cycle as well. If you are a baby boomer, changes are you’ve seen you parents die already, as I have. And now we find ourselves on the precipice of the last of their generation, the World War Two generation, leave us as well.
This is bringing massive change to our culture and world and will continue to for a long time. Last month I spoke at the United States Marine Corps Raider Association’s annual Memorial Service as their Chaplain for what will almost certainly be the last time. The Raiders, who were created and disbanded during the war, are now mostly gone. We had 15 WW2 Raiders there, the most for quite a few years.
But new Raiders have arisen as the Corps reflagged the Battalions of MARSOC (Marine Special Operations Command) as Raiders in 2014 and that transition is now complete. As the new and old Raiders meet for what could be the final time, so the Association is going through major changes.
It was an emotional moment for me, the child of a Fourth Raider Battalion Raider (they only have three Battalions today, I’m hoping for one more soon!). Here’s what I said about the changes facing them. I hope you’ll find it helpful in the changes you are dealing with as well.
2017 Raider Reunion Memorial Service Address
Hello and welcome to the 2017 Marine Raider Association Annual Memorial Service. I believe that the 2017 reunion will be long remembered as the reunion where the torch was passed to the new generation of Raiders. We are honored and blessed today to have both our World War 2 Raiders and today’s Raiders attending. Two very different generations standing together as one. In service to one Corps, one country and one God.
Today we honor their courage, faithfulness and sacrifice, giving thanks for men such as these, men whose sacrifice of service will not be forgotten. We do this in the shadow of the first generation of Raiders whose time is drawing nigh. The sun is setting on what many have called the “greatest generation” and we who remain will always honor their many sacrifices.
As I thought about this I remembered that in Judaism sunset does not signify the day is ending. Rather it is at sunset that the new day begins, this was true in Jesus day and it remains true today for those who follow the ancient orthodox Jewish customs. This is fitting to remember because as one generation of Raiders is about to depart another has already stood up and are making their presence felt in a new day for the Marine Raiders.
With the foundation of working together (Gung Ho) of the World War Two Raiders, and the never say die, unconquerable spirit (Spiritus Invictus) of today’s Marine Raiders, we can be assured that they will continue to be the very tip of the spear of America’s military might.
A few months ago I was preparing a message from John chapter 13 and verse one jumped off the page at me. I knew then I was going to share it with you today. Hear these immortal words so beautifully written under the Spirit’s inspiration by the Apostle John. Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
Marine Raiders don’t just love their family, friends and country to the end, they volunteer to do it. They pledge to defend our country against “all enemies both foreign and domestic,” and then go beyond that to make sure they will the first ones to raise their arms in defense of home and hearth. So this is a fitting verse for them.
But I wasn’t thinking about them when this verse hit me. No, I was thinking about myself, and all of you gathered here who, like me, may have never served but who love the Raiders to the end never-the-less.
I’m pretty sure the Corps isn’t looking for any 64-year-old, bi-focal wearing sad sacks like me to be a part of MARSOC. So I can’t do that. But I can, and will, love Marine Raiders of all generations to the end. Today all of us can honor our dead and bless those still living by pledging to them that we will indeed love them to the end. And while we can’t be with you on the field of battle we can let you know that we are working with you by supporting you and yours at home. We will love you to the end by always supporting you no matter what anyone else may say. For we know that in the end you will find a way to conquer all who would threaten our peace and freedom.
And so today we honor those who have died this last year. Whether in a hospital, at home, on the field of battle or in a fiery plane crash; we remember and pray for all those left behind. Living or dead we stand with you and do promise and pledge to love you to the very end of our strength and our lives themselves.
For as you have stood for us, we pledge and promise to always stand with you and for you.
And as your legacy of freedom continues to grow all over the world, I believe that hundreds of thousands if not millions will continue to give thanks for precious gift of liberty that was given to them by the United States Marine Corps Raiders.
May God bless our fallen, the Marine Corps, all our Raiders and God bless the United States of America!
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Louie Marsh is pastor of Christ’s Church on the River on the Parker Strip. Visit his website HERE.