What Am I Grateful For Today…Active Duty Military and Veterans

So Joshua, Nun’s son, called the priests. He said to them, “Lift up the covenant chest. Let seven priests carry seven trumpets made from rams’ horns in front of the Lord’s chest.” He said to the people, “Go forward. Circle the city. Let the armed soldiers go in front of the Lord’s chest.” As soon as Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying seven ram’s horn trumpets moved forward in front of the Lord. They blew the trumpets. The Lord’s covenant chest followed. The initial group of soldiers was going in front of the priests who were blowing the trumpets. The rear guard was coming behind the chest, with trumpets blowing continuously. 10 Joshua ordered the people, “Don’t shout. Don’t let your voice be heard. Don’t let a word come out of your mouth until the day I tell you, ‘Shout!’ Then shout!”

11 He made the Lord’s chest circle the city, going around one time. They went back to the camp and stayed there overnight. 12 Joshua got up early in the morning. The priests lifted up the Lord’s chest. 13 The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets made from rams’ horns were going in front of the Lord’s chest, blowing trumpets continuously. The armed soldiers were going in front of them. The rear guard was coming after the Lord’s chest, blowing trumpets continuously. 14 They circled the city one time on the second day. Then they went back to the camp. They did this for six days.

15 On the seventh day, they got up at dawn. They circled the city in this way seven times. It was only on that day that they circled the city seven times. 16 The seventh time, the priests blew the trumpets. Then Joshua said to the people, “Shout, because the Lord has given you the city!17 The city and everything in it is to be utterly wiped out as something reserved for the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute is to stay alive, along with everyone with her in her house. This is because she hid the messengers we sent. 18 But you, keep away from the things set aside for God so that you don’t desire and take some of the things reserved. That would turn the camp of Israel into a thing doomed to be utterly wiped out and bring calamity on it. 19 All silver and gold, along with bronze and iron equipment, are holy to the Lord. They must go into the Lord’s treasury.” 20 Then the people shouted. They blew the trumpets. As soon as the people heard the trumpet blast, they shouted a loud war cry. Then the wall collapsed. The people went up against the city, attacking straight ahead. They captured the city (Joshua 6:6-20, Common English Bible).

I am the son of a Navy veteran. I am the father of a Marine Corps veteran. In between, I served in the Navy for four years. My late father was an E-3 engineman and served on the USS Tolovana, an oiler that was in and out of the Korean war zone on a regular basis. My son repaired radios and other electronic equipment for the Marine Corps during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He became a sergeant before leaving the Corps. As for me, I was a signalman, 2nd Class Petty Officer, on the USS Mt. Whitney during the Cold War from 1977-1981. I am proud of the legacy my family has serving our country.

Because of their time in the line of fire, I consider my father and my son heroes. They put themselves on the line in the defense of our country. I didn’t serve during an actual shooting conflict. I am not a hero. Still, I did what was asked of me during the time I served.

I know so many veterans. There are those I served with like Alan Alexander and Butch Vineyard, my two closest buddies during my time in the Navy.

I remember today a World War I vet. My Great-Grandfather, William Norris served and had a raspy voice from his time in the Army. He was gassed. It gave him a “horse” sounding voice for the rest of his life.

I remember today World War II vets like my late Uncle Jim and a church member, the late Harold Brooks. My Uncle Jim served toward the end of the war. He was slated for a classified mission that was “high risk” but the war ended before the mission took place. Harold Brooks was a member of my church here in Sweeny. He was one of the first funerals I conducted in this community. Petty Officer Brooks is the only signalman I have met other than those I served with. Anytime we got together, Harold would want to talk about the Navy in general and signaling in particular. He was a third class petty officer when he left the Navy. I was a second class petty officer. I would tease him that I outranked him. He was very proud of his Navy service.

My dad and many of his friends served during the Korean War. Like I said, my dad’s ship went in and out of the Korean war zone refueling the fleet on a fairly regular basis. Also, my old friend, the late Hank Turner served during this time. Hank never served in a war. He spent his time stationed in West Germany.

My Uncle Mike was a career Air Force officer. My Uncle Mike served during the Vietnam era and beyond. He was a full bird colonel when he retired. Another of my former church members was Jimmy Frank Harrison. Jimmy was on the ground during Vietnam. Agent orange took his life years later.

Like me, my friend Paul Woodworth served during the “Cold War,” though a few years earlier than me. Paul was an Electrician’s mate in the Navy serving on two different destroyers.

There have been conflicts since. The only one I specifically remember was my son. I know there were others. Wayne admits today that he chose the Marine Corps, in part, because he thought it would make me mad. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am very proud of my son and the service he gave to our country. Wayne is a civilian today but works for a government contractor. So, he still serves our country, just not directly on their payroll.

These are but a few of the many vets in my family and that I have been acquainted with over the years. I could name many, many more. I am proud of those I served with. I am proud of those who served both before and after me. I am proud we carry the same title today, “United States Military Veteran.” Each of you are what I am grateful for today.

That is what I am grateful for today. What about you. What are you grateful for today. Write it down in your journal. Tell someone who needs to hear words of thankfulness. I would also challenge you to say thank you to a veteran.

Thank you to all veterans who served during wartime and peacetime. Because of your service, I am grateful and blessed.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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