Today is the day after Veterans Day and it is a few days after the Philippines has been decimated by the savage Typhoon Haiyan. Let me begin with a heart warming story of a veteran at the end of life and the unique role of our military today.

The story of the death of a 99-year-old Veteran in the UK, Harold Percival, touched many. He was never married and he was a World War 2 survivor. The only people who would attend his funeral was a nephew and one or two others until the funeral director put in the newspaper announcement a request. If anyone is available,could they attend his service on Veterans Day to honor his service to the country. Social media took over and 300 people showed up, including many veterans, army units and several on leave in full military uniform. One young soldier said he deserves this send off.  The pastor at the service said, “There is something special about the surprising compassion we all feel.”

On a similar note, when I lived in Pennsylvania, I interacted with the relief agency “Church World Service.” There I found out that one of the primary relief agencies is none other than our own military. They are the only body in the world who can move quickly to be first responders in major catastrophes. Today, our marines have reopened airports, and a naval task force is bringing relief to people in the Philippines.

Both stories bring me to the heart of the Gospel: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5: 8) These words of Jesus reach into the heart of our culture and, may I be bold to say, into our hearts in thanksgiving and praise.