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A Confession for Veterans Day

A Confession for Veterans Day

rows of small American flags on sticks upright in the grass

As we gather this Sabbath on the eve of Veterans Day we are compelled to confess how we are failing our veterans. Last week’s shooting is yet another example of a veteran who didn’t get the full extent of mental health care he needed. Our High Holiday prayer book delineates three forms of failure that are not only harmful but sinful. Failures of Truth, Failures of Justice and Failure of Love. All three of these are applicable to how we have failed our veterans. Together we confess these failures.

We have failed to admit the painful truth, the depth and breadth of the crisis.

We have failed to act justly, to honor our commitments, to fulfill our obligations.

We have failed to show sufficient love and loyalty to those who took huge risks and made great sacrifices.

Asahamnu. We have sinned. The plague of violence that troubled veterans have visited upon their fellow citizens and themselves is an outgrowth of our collective failure.

This Veterans Day let us resolve to do more than recite war poems, sing patriotic songs, and proffer words of thanks.

Rather we declare our resolve to call our representatives, write our senators, and beseech our military to confront the fatal consequences of our failed efforts. We owe those who served no less.

May our confession of failure strengthen our desire for success. May our prayers tonight lead to actions tomorrow and let us say: Amen.

Rabbi David Wirtschafter is the rabbi of Temple Adath Israel in Lexington, KY. Confronting violence in classic Jewish texts and contemporary society is the focus of his work in progress, The Torah They Never Taught You, Bad Stories from The Good Book.

Rabbi David Wirtschafter
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