Here are four prayers reposted for Memorial Day. The first is a yizkor prayer for soldiers, followed by three prayers originally written for Veterans Day that are also appropriate as memorial prayers. “Veterans Day Prayer” is classical in structure and language. “To the Soldier, To the Veteran” is a three-stanza prayer/poem with a parallel structure to be said be those of us who have not served in the military in honor of those who have served. “The Last Soldier” is a prayer for peace that honors the soldier’s journey. To listen along to each prayer, click on the triangle in the bars below. The text of each prayer follows.
Yizkor for a Soldier
I say this prayer in memory of Tom Christiansen z”l, my grade-school swimming coach, who gave his life in Vietnam. Thanks to the men and women who died protecting both of the lands that I love: the U.S. Military and the Israel Defense Forces.
G-d of the selfless,
G-d of the strong and the brave,
Grant a perfect rest among the souls of the righteous
To ______________________ (name in Hebrew or your native tongue),
My [father / mother / sister / brother / child / wife / dear one/ friend]
Who died in service to our country during the
_________________________________________________ [name of war or conflict].
May his / her dedication serve as a shining lamp of courage and love.
Bless the souls of all who have died in the name of liberty and democracy,
Soldiers and veterans,
Civilians and professionals,
Men and women who answered the call of honor and duty.
May his / her memory be sanctified with joy and love.
May his / her soul be bound up in the bond of life,
A living blessing in our midst.
Veterans Day Prayer
G-d of compassion,
G-d of dignity and strength,
Watch over the veterans of the United States
In recognition of their loyal service to our nation.
Bless them with wholeness and love.
Heal their wounds,
Comfort their hearts.
Grant them peace.
G-d of justice and truth,
Rock of our lives,
Bless our veterans,
These men and women of courage and valor,
With a deep and abiding understanding
Of our profound gratitude.
Protect them and their families from loneliness and want.
Grant them lives of joy and bounty.
May their dedication and honor
Be remembered as a blessing
From generation to generation.
Blessed are You,
Protector and Redeemer,
Our Shield and our Stronghold.
To the Soldier, To the Veteran
These things I do not know:
The sound of a bullet.
The power of a blast.
The blood of a comrade.
The depth of your wound.
The terror at midnight.
The dread at dawn.
Your fear or your pain.
These things I know:
The sound of your honor.
The power of your courage.
The blood of your wound.
The depth of your strength.
The terror that binds you.
The dread that remains.
Your dignity and your valor.
For these things we pray:
The sound of your laughter.
The power of your voice.
The blood of your yearning.
The depth of your healing.
The joy that frees you.
The hope that remains.
Your wholeness and your love.
The Last Soldier
When the last soldier passes on,
When armies are disbanded and militias discharged,
When weapons are abandoned and armor discarded,
Your mission will, at last, be over.
For you know the soldier’s secret.
Yours was not a mission of war
Nor a mission of ruin.
Yours was not a mission of destruction
Nor a mission of death.
Your mission was safety, security, protection.
Your mission was honor, loyalty, service.
Your mission was to end violence, tyranny, despair.
When the last soldier passes on,
When the uniforms are retired and the final grave filled,
We will remember all who served and sacrificed for our nation.
Until then G-d of Old,
Watch over our soldiers and our veterans.
Renew their courage.
Rebuild their strength.
Heal their wounds.
Bind their hearts with Your steadfast love.
And give them peace.
© 2011 Alden Solovy and http://www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.
Postscript: See also “In Times of War.” Here’s a link to more yizkor and memorial prayers. Thanks again to Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder, Ph.D., for her suggestion that I write prayers for Veterans Day. Here are links to other prayers written at Rabbi Ruth’s suggestion: “Be’chol Lashon (In Every Tongue)” and “A Liturgy for 9-11”.
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Photo Source: U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs