The following is
the text of the homily of Deacon John V. Sebastian at St. John the
Evangelist Church in Naples, Florida on Veterans Day, November 11. Deacon John, a veteran himself, honors his
fellow veterans and relates their patriotism to Wokism which is attempting to
rewrite American history.
To view Deacon Sebastian’s acclaimed and
extensively forwarded Veteran’s Day Homily go to https://vimeo.com/644775850. To skip the entrance procession of the
Knights of Columbus, music, the colors, and the beginning of Mass, go directly
to the 42 minute mark for his reading of the Psalm and the Gospel. His 8 minute homily begins at the 46 minute
One comment: “Again, I want to
thank you for the absolutely outstanding homily this morning at our Veterans
Day Mass. These words were so perfectly
on point and needed to be said and heard.
I will be sharing the link to this Mass video with many of my friends
and they will doubtless move it forward.”
We give special recognition to the
military on two occasions every year, Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Memorial Day is the more solemn occasion
because we honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, their lives. Veteran’s Day used to be called Armistice Day;
it was first celebrated exactly 100 years ago on November 11, 1921. Armistice Day was declared to commemorate the
ending of the “war to end all wars,” that is, World War I and the millions of
lives lost in that war.
Since then, of course, tragically, World War II was
even worse; sadly, that was followed by the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and
most recently Panama, Beirut, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other
conflicts. Armistice Day, then, was
changed to Veteran’s Day.
On Veterans Day we celebrate everyone
who served in the military. Incidentally,
today the church celebrates St. Martin of Tours. St. Martin served in the military of Rome,
then spent the rest of his life in service to the poor as a priest and bishop
of Tours in France. He is the patron
saint of France.
1st Lt. John V. Sebastian as commanding officer of an Engineering Company in Com Z Orleans, France in 1965
I served in the military during the
Vietnam War. But I have to admit that I
did not consider myself especially patriotic when I signed up for ROTC as a
freshman in college. In those days,
signing up via the Selective Service was compulsory, so I just figured I’d be
better off as an officer than an enlisted man.
It was not until I spent time in a number of Soviet-controlled countries
during my service, that I realized how much I appreciated my country.
In particular, I remember being in East
Berlin, seeing the Berlin wall, the oppression on their side of the wall and
true freedom on our side that my affection for my country grew. Noting the years of my military service, I am
always moved by a visit to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, and the 59,000
names inscribed in the wall.
As I grow older I have become more
patriotic. I love our country,
especially the principles espoused by the declaration of independence: life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I
achieve each of these with my own priorities in life: God, Family, Country.
Over the last few years, it saddens me
to see how so-called “woke” or “progressive” politics and the cancel culture have
attempted to wreck our country. They are
judging our founding fathers, not for the good they’ve done, but their failure,
in our 21st century eyes, to be perfect. Statues to Christopher Columbus, George
Washington, Thomas Jefferson, civil war generals, and many others have been
removed from their pedestals.
Lincoln, in my view, our greatest president, has been castigated by the
cancel culture. Although Lincoln was a
strong abolitionist and authored the Emancipation Proclamation, it seems his
great sin was to prioritize the preservation of the union over the immediate emancipation of the
slaves. The wokes have demanded removal
of statues and his name on schools, streets, etc.
Most recently has been the condemnation
of Father, now Saint, Junipero Serra, in California. He is
being vilified for his evangelization efforts because the cancel culture is
projecting their perfect standards of woke behavior in 2021 400 years onto the
past. He wasn’t perfect but he was still
a good man who fought for indigenous peoples’ rights.
Fr. Serra lived in a very cruel time but
he treated the indigenous peoples with dignity.
He initiated 21 missions in California that spread Christianity and
education to the masses. In one of those
missions, Los Angeles, the cancel culture has succeeded in removing his
presence from the park system. That is
ridiculous. Do you know that when he was
60 and ailing, Father Serra marched 2000 miles to the Territory Governor in Mexico
City to demand a bill of rights for indigenous people? Later, 20 American Indians had been sentenced
to death for their attack on Mission San Diego.
Father Serra intervened saying that these people were deprived of their
rights. Eventually, they were all
freed. The saint was ahead of his
I long for my fellow citizens to reject
the views of the far left and of the
far right. I long for a return
to civility in political discourse.
I may disagree with what you say, but I respect your right to be heard,
and do not hate you for the views that you have.
Let the love we share for our country help enact
laws which respect our freedoms and our belief in the sanctity of life. Sanctity of life, to me, includes
opposition to abortion and euthanasia and the death penalty, but also love for
our fellow human beings, especially the poor and vulnerable. Remember Our Lord’s commandment to his
disciples at the Last Supper: “Love one another as I have loved you.” We all need to act like we believe that
Jesus’ words are true and binding.
can help to change things. First of
all, be proud to be Catholic. Be proud
to be patriotic. Did you know that because
you are a veteran you are entitled to salute the flag in civilian clothes? So, do it.
Display the flag. Vote. Encourage and educate your children
and grandchildren and your friends in our history. Teach them the horrors of fascism, socialism,
and communism. Show them your patriotism. Encourage theirs. Lead by example.
Father Tom and our priests and staff
here at St. John’s are pleased to honor our Veterans and their loved ones today. Thanks for being here. Thank you for your service. I especially ask you to support and pray
for our many veterans who are afflicted physically, mentally, and
spiritually. May God bless them. And may God bless you. God bless the United States of America.