The Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple (VHBT) celebrated its first Veterans Day Service on Nov, 12, 2023.
Present at the service were 10 veterans, representing many branches of the military. Of the 10 veterans, two were family members representing the veterans.
The service opened and closed with a flag ceremony performed by members of the Temple’s Girl Scout Troop 5325 and Cub Pack 79. The Scouts also sang the national anthem, and later held a long, handmade red, white, and blue chain during the recitation of “The Golden Chain.”
The most moving part of the service was when individual Scouts reverently bore beautiful red, white and blue ribbon leis to the front of the Hondo where the veterans solemnly stood.
VHBT President Tom Nakagiri and individual Scouts then presented each veteran with a lei and shook each veteran’s hand.
During his Dharma message, VHBT Resident Minister Rev. Kory Quon explained the reason for holding this first ever Veterans Day Service at the temple.
“We want to do this because we should be proactive in our appreciation of what we’ve received,” Rev. Quon said. “We should be proactive in saying, ‘Thank you,’ for the roles that these individuals have played behind the scenes … to give us our way of life.”
Rev. Quon explained how saying the Nembutsu can be an expression of that gratitude: “That’s the reason why we’re Jodo Shinshu Buddhists and say, ‘Namo Amida Butsu.’ The whole key to our tradition is to reflect within. To see what kind of gifts we’ve received from the efforts of those around us.”
After the service, the veterans and all in attendance enjoyed delicious red, white, and blue desserts, and individual Scouts gave each veteran a handmade card which read, “Today we honor you for serving our country and protecting our freedom. Thank you.”