At 5 o’clock traffic stops.
A lone bugle cries out “Retreat.” Cars abruptly stop and line the roads with their hazards flashing. What was a bustling base one minute earlier has come to a halt.
The overhead crackles briefly as "Kimi ga yo,” the Japanese national anthem, soars from the loudspeaker. It’s quiet again. Still no one moves. There are no planes taking off, no fuel trucks rumbling down the road; even the kids walking out from daycare have stopped and are waiting. Then the familiar opening chords of “The Star Spangled Banner” burst through, ending with the echoing "O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave."
My wife is a pediatrician in the Navy and we moved to Okinawa, Japan this summer. Before this I’ve never spent much time on a military base. At first I found this daily habit of halting traffic annoying, a delay in my schedule. I stopped anyway, because you have to. But after doing this a few times, I now find the moment striking. It is a brief and important remembrance for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and given their lives for our freedom. A sacred moment.
The action of stopping my car, sitting quietly, and listening created space for me to change my mind. By stopping my car, I acted before I fully understood. But habits can do that to you. They can inspire growth within you. What belief or virtue do you wish to increase in yourself? Choose a habit that will allow it to grow.
Happy Veterans Day friends. Listen to our national anthem today and remember all those who have served and shown fortitude, honor, and selflessness. I wish you courage, bravery, and freedom for a life bound to Christ.
Links for The Star Spangled Banner, Retreat, and Taps played by the United States Coast Guard Band
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