Yesterday, November 11, was Veterans Day, which is also being observed today. (Those of you who are veterans–thank you! Lots of businesses are offering you all kinds of free stuff–from haircuts to an abundance of food–to express our nation’s thanks. Go here for a list of what you can get.)
Veterans Day also has some interesting conjunctions, especially this year.
November 11 was also the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. (That’s not that long ago, really.)
The day before, November 10, marks the birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps, which was inaugurated 243 years ago in 1775, making it older than the nation it has always defended.
As it happens, November 11 is not only Veterans Day, it is the day of commemoration for St. Martin of Tours, the patron saint of soldiers. Martin was a Roman soldier. Contrary to some accounts, he seems to have been a Christian all through his time of service. He is said to have cut his cloak in two with his sword to give to a beggar freezing with cold. Later, reportedly when Julian the Apostate became emperor and tried to suppress Christianity, which had earlier been legalized by Constantine, Martin left the cavalry and became an influential bishop.
We Reformation Christians don’t hold to patron saints, but St. Martin’s day is significant for us too. On this day in 1483, 535 years ago, Martin Luther was baptized. He would say that his parents had him baptized right after he was born, though scholars say that his actual birth might have been on what would become the Marines’ birthday on November 10, with the baptism the next day. But because the little boy was baptized on the day of commemoration for St. Martin of Tours, he was named Martin.
Another thing of great significance happened on November 11 this year. Back in February, I mentioned in this blog how my granddaughter invited a friend to church who had never set foot in a church before. Well, she kept coming. In Sunday school, she kept learning more about Jesus. A few weeks ago, she asked if she could be baptized. On Sunday, yesterday–Veterans Day, 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I, St. Martin de Tours Day, Martin Luther’s baptism day–she herself became part of church history and the company of saints by confessing her faith and being baptized.
Painting “The Charity of St. Martin,” by Louis-Anselme Longa (1809-1869) [detail] via Abmg [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons