Dear Soldiers

Thursday, November 11, 2021
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "O God Our Help In Ages Past"1 (Lyrics)

John 15:12-13 – This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (NASB 1995)

My father's parents divorced in the 1930s. Grandma Smith was forty-seven when she had Dad, the youngest of seven. Throughout his boyhood, whenever visitors were expected, it was his job to beg for food in the neighbourhood. He could not read well and quit school in grade seven. Dad was a troubled and quiet man, and so I cherish the time when, with tears in his eyes, he told me the story of how his older brother saved his life. A team of horses bolted, but Russell managed to stop them just before Dad would have been trampled. Although he drove truck for more than 40 years, my father found it very difficult to travel outside his home area. I have always felt a connection to my Uncle Russell, and after Dad passed away in his eighties, I wanted to visit his brother's grave in Belgium.

Corporal Russell Smith, Highland Light Infantry, already wounded, went back to the front to serve in the Battle of the Scheldt. The operation was to free the estuary to open the port of Antwerp. He was killed on October 31st, 1944. He and many of the Canadians who died there and elsewhere in Belgium were brought to the cemetery in the village of Adegem, Belgium. Not long after his death, Grandma Smith saw Dad off on the train with a package of sandwiches. He was seventeen, heading west to be trained. The war ended before he got overseas.

Romans 13:7 – Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect then respect; if honor, then honor. (NIV)

In May 2016, my husband and I rented a car in Brussels and drove to the small, beautifully kept cemetery. To be the first of the Smith family to see where he was buried was an honour. The sun came out as I found his grave. A small group of children from the village school entered the cemetery. Their teacher explained that these grade six students, each with a clipboard, were there to learn about the soldiers. One lad walked over to me and said, "Respect".

The next Remembrance Day, I stood in front of my television watching the service from Ottawa, our national capital. I said a prayer of thanksgiving for my Uncle Fred (who came back from the front an alcoholic), Uncle Russell, Dad, and Grandma Smith. It was not uncommon to see a deer in the little bush behind our backyard, but right then, four deer nosed up to the window and looked in. I marvelled at the comfort that I received, and I dried my tears.

On this day of remembering, let us thank God for the selfless people of our world, past and present, who have risked their lives to protect us, to preserve our freedom, and to keep the peace.

Prayer: Dear Lord, with thanksgiving to You, we remember those who put their lives on the line to protect us all, those who gave their lives, those still alive who suffer from PTSD, the front line workers, emergency workers, and those who have endangered their lives not only for their loved ones, but also for total strangers. Amen.

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About the author:

Sandra Thomson <>
Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:



    Thank you.

    Amen, Sandra.

    Thank you for your inspiring story.

    Amen, Sandra, we salute our heroes! Blessings.

    Thanks, Sandra, for your words in today’s devotional.

    Beautiful treasures Sandra! Keep them alive. Blessings.

    Thank you for today’s reading. You’ve made it very personal.

    Thank you for this beautiful message.
    Have a wonderful day!

    Thank you for sharing your memories and your reverence for those who served.

    Grateful for your grace-filled words today, Sandra. Indeed these faithful DO need our prayers.

    Thank you, Sandra, for sharing those personal memories. We appreciate your devotional today.

    This is a lovely testimony of our God using His children and His nature to affirm Holy Grace and Peace. Thank you.

    Thank you for the reminder you presented, to be thankful in all things, and not to forget those he gave their lives to protect our country.

    Dear Sandra,
    Thank you so much for your moving, inspiring devotional. It is a blessing to me.

    Thank you for your devotional this morning. I love the way Parry Sound puts up pictures of those who served from the area. God bless.

    Thank you for sharing such a touching story, Sandra. May God shine his light on you and all who are remembering on this important day.

    Thank you for your devotional today. I understand totally the desire to acknowledge the sacrifices made by veterans we know and the ones we don’t.
    Bless you.

    Amen to that prayer and thank you for a beautifully written reminder of the brave men and who gave, and continue to give, so much.
    Blessings to you,

    Thank you for that Sandra. It brought tears to my eyes. I will remember your story when my wife and I go to our local Cenotaph this morning to pay our respects.
    God Bless,

    Hi Sandra.
    I read the Presbyterian devotions every morning, and I was so pleased to notice this morning’s excellent message was from someone I know. I encourage you to do more.
    Trust this finds you in good health.

    Hello Sandra,
    A very heart touching devotional you have written about the special trip you made to visit the grave site of your relative in Brussels. Our Lord certainly directs our ways for special reasons that give us satisfied feelings. Blessings for this writing you have contributed.

    Thank you for your devotional today. Here in our small town in Texas there was a Veterans Day service which was very moving. I was 8 when World War II ended. My parents took me to Times Square in New York City (we lived in a county outside the city) for the celebration. Now I am over 80 and I still remember that event. Your story moved me and warmed my heart.

    Dear Sandra, What a precious family story. You brought tears to my eyes, and what a humble way of reminding us that each one of those wonderful souls who fought for our freedom has an individual story to tell. I am glad that our Lord blessed you with a gift from nature and healing tears to ease the pain of loss. God Bless You and Yours this Remembrance Day! Thank You.

    Thank you for your story today. Just last night I was talking with a group of ladies, and one of them [born in Holland] said, “Why does Canada still have Remembrance Day and remember WW2? The war was not here and few, if any, who served in that war are likely still living.”
    I have sort of wondered that as well, as I have no near relatives or known friends with people who served in WW2, but your story has shown me WHY! THANK YOU!

    Dear Sandra:
    Thank you for your Remembrance Day message. It really touched my heart.
    Over my lifetime I have lived through WWll, and the many armed conflicts since then. Although I have never served in the armed forces, I knew some who did, both survivors and non-survivors.
    I share your view of the debt, honor, respect, and love we owe those who did serve.
    Wishing you God’s richest blessings.

    Thank you for the special devotion today. Both of my grandfathers served in the first war, and my Dad and 2 uncles in the second. All survived, by which I was truly blessed. Dad talked of his time in the war, very little. I know that most of his memories were terrible ones, but he did focus on the comradeship of his fellows. How moving it must have been for you to visit the Belgian cemetery! I’ve been there and was moved by the feeling of peace, and that was without knowing any of the fallen soldiers.
    We shall remember them!

    Good morning, Sandra,
    Thank you for sharing a little of your father’s family’s life story and the close connection of the two brothers. It is wonderful that you were able to visit your Uncle Russell’s grave in Belgium and know how the graves are still taken care of so beautifully kept after all these years.
    A great reminder for us all of the importance of memories in our lives. As I join with you in your prayer today for all the people who have made our world a better place and given us the freedom we have, may God hear our prayers. Thank you for sharing so others can appreciate.

    My Dad and two uncles went overseas, and grandma had her boys come home.
    He never talked about the war often mostly with his brothers and my older brother would listen. Charlie has talked about their conversation.
    We have his letters to Mom and Grandma, and they are starting to fade.
    Our high school students went overseas and visited the battlefields and graves. They said it was overwhelming at the cemeteries and they spoke of the quiet hush. They always had respect for these men and women who were so brave.
    Thank you as was reading I started to cry (which I do ever Remembrance Day).

    Good morning Ms. Thomson,
    I thank you for the Devotional Today,
    Wow ! I cried; you took my breath away with your words.
    I thank you for your reminder of the selflessness of the past and present men and women who protect us, keep the peace so we can be FREE today!
    Enjoy the day, God Bless You and keep safe during this troubled time.
    I have moved to Nederland and feel it more the HONOR of our Canadian Men who sacrificed themselves to FREE HOLLAND and now I can enjoy a peaceful life here!
    Thank you again.
    I look forward to your next devotional!

    Dear Sandra:
    Thank you for your touching and candid recollections. It must have been very moving to be in Europe where these battles were fought, and many Canadians were lost.
    My 26-year-old cousin of the PPCLI was killed by an IED while on patrol with local police in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2006.
    He was transported home along the Highway of Heroes and rests now in a cemetery in Saskatoon where he was born and raised. Not long after his funeral, I visited his Mom and Dad and went to his grave site.
    This was a very moving experience for me. I have some sense of how you must have felt.
    We are blessed to live in this great country.

    Beautiful tribute for our soldiers. Thank you.

    Your Remembrance Day devotional was beautiful! I didn’t know about all this — about your father and uncle. Knowing helps us appreciate each other better. Lovely that you returned to the grave site and what an experience that must have been.

    Sandra, how heart-warming and truly amazing how you got to visit your Uncle’s Grave. I’m sure you’d have had a feeling you’ll never forget!
    You are very gifted doing these devotionals and keep up the good work!!
    Thanks again. I’m sending this on to some I know don’t get the devotional!!

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