At the end of worship on Sunday I praised the communion team for “filling all those little cups.” I did it because I had heard some reports about how long it takes to do that, and how much work it is, and how little it seems to be appreciated. So I wanted to appreciate, publicly, the team that fills those little cups so we can have communion.
Since then I’ve been thinking about that line, “They also serve who only stand and wait,” from a poem by John Milton, which was used during World War II to affirm those who didn’t fight on the front lines, yet were still invaluable to the effort. I found this post on a web site called “WWII Talk” by someone named “Jamesicus”:
Support and Administrative personnel are essential to winning wars. The men and women who fight in battle on the front lines rightfully get most of the glory and reap the accolades for they spill the blood and undergo the extreme hardships and are the most frequently and terribly wounded, often bearing the scars of battle for the rest of their lives. Many pay the supreme sacrifice in the bloom of their youth to defend their country and, in the case of WW2 especially, in order to preserve worldwide liberty and freedom.
However, wars could not be fought nor victories won without the legions of behind the scenes support personnel: clerks, cooks, transportation, supply, medical, maintenance, command & control, weather, civil engineers, legal, training, mechanics ….. and so on (I have probably inadvertently omitted many). They are the unsung and often unheralded heroes and heroines of the military who, like the combat soldiers sailors and airmen, endure long periods of separation from their loved ones, interminable boredom and loneliness and sometimes are wounded or die from non-battlefield injuries.
I want to salute the combat veterans of each branch of all Allied Military forces and offer profound thanks for their service and devotion—particularly those who were wounded or paid the supreme sacrifice in WW2—we are here today enjoying our freedoms and pursuit of happiness because of what they did.
I also salute the myriads of support personnel who toiled so hard and endured so much—frequently without much recognition—in order to insure the success of innumerable military missions and to aid & succor the magnificent fighting men and women.
“They also serve who only stand and wait”
Well said, Jamesicus, whoever you are, and thank you for reminding me that it’s not only the people who are on the front lines of this year-long, every-member mission trip who are helping us succeed, but also the “legions of behind the scenes support” as you put it: the communion team, the baptism team, the teller committee, the Sunday school teachers, the nursery workers, the deacons, the church officers, the standing committee members, the support staff, the custodians, the bus drivers, the ushers and greeters (like Jamesicus, I have “probably inadvertently omitted many”). They are the unsung and often unheralded heroes and heroines of this year-long, every-member mission trip we call KOH2RVA.
We couldn’t do it without them.