It is human nature to take things for granted and as I observe various holidays I realize holidays such as Memorial Day are often nothing more than time off work, school, or wonderful sales to take advantage of for many. Tragically too often, there is little thought as to the PRICE PAID by the thousands, if not millions to secure, preserve, and protect the Freedoms we enjoy today. Our Freedom did not come without a price and that price was the ultimate sacrifice for many and their sacrifice a daily reminder for the loved ones they left behind. A WWII veteran told me, “I enlisted out of love for my country but even more out of love for my wife and children.” He said, “I was willing to die that they might live and live free.” That is a sentiment echoed by thousands who fought for Freedom regardless of the war or conflict. None of us who were placed in harm’s way went into combat wanting to go or wanting to die. We went out of a sense of duty and, in my case, out of love for my country. I was asked to serve and I did. I had a person challenge that, saying “They didn’t ask you, they told you.” That is true and yet I never viewed it in that manner. I considered it, another time that my country needed its young men to step forward, and as in wars of past eras, many of us did. You may disagree with me and even disrespect me for that, but please do not disrespect those who gave their lives because they did it for their country and directly or indirectly for you.
Memorial Day to me is a time of Remembrance and Gratitude. I know the pain of delivering the message to a family that their husband, father, or grandfather (or mother) would not be coming home. As a preacher, I have had to deliver that message far more times than I care to remember. Some of those times, I could comfort the family with total confidence that their loved one was secure in the arms of Jesus. I had observed their lives, known them personally and seen the manifestation of God’s love in and through them. I have tried to comfort grieving parents and grandparents at the loss of a child as they asked, “Why?” I have participated in memorials at cemeteries where loved ones left behind gather each year to remember those who have gone before. The pain some exhibit is difficult to watch. I have observed celebrations at military cemeteries and watched the deep pain as family members and friends stood before the tombstone of their fallen hero. THEY DO NOT FORGET and WE MUST NOT!
Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” I have traveled to countries of the world who do not know the Freedom we enjoy in America and walked away with a sense of gratitude and deep pain and sorrow. Gratitude for the privilege of being born in and living in America but deep pain and sorrow for those living under despotic and deplorable regimes where they have no Freedom and often live in the squalor of poverty and oppression. WE ARE BLESSED! As I lift my voice and heart in gratitude I also become angry at the political jockeying of today. In my mind, we tarnish the memories of the fallen by engaging in the political wrangling. Too often the political is less about America, Americans, and Freedom than it is about position, power, and gain. Jesus said, and men throughout history have echoed the truth that “A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand.” America, the memories of those who died to secure, ensure, procure, and defend our FREEDOM should bring shame to our hearts if we fail to appreciate and live up to what they died for.
Memorial Day to me is not a holiday where I am able to take advantage of the sales advertised, go to the lake and enjoy a day of leisure and sun, or even time off work. Memorial Day to me is a DAY OF REMEMBRANCE and GRATITUDE. When I think of what Jesus did for me on the Cross I am grateful, thankful, and remember. When I think of what the heroes of the Revolutionary War did, I am grateful, thankful, and remember. When I reflect on the sacrifices of those of the many wars and conflicts of our American history, I am grateful, thankful, and remember. MEMORIAL DAY to me is a reminder of what it means to be Free and a reminder that the price of Freedom is eternal vigilance. It is a reminder that we must not cease to pray for our nation, her leaders, and people. It is a reminder that we must be alert and aware of what is happening politically, socially, economically, morally, and spiritually in our world. It is a reminder that what they died for places a burden and responsibility for me to continue to protect and defend that Freedom with my all.
All I ask from anyone is take the time to REMEMBER! Take a moment and be grateful because what we have been given is precious and a prize that millions if not billions in the world would give anything to enjoy. WE ARE BLESSED! As you celebrate this Memorial Day it is my prayer that God keep you safe and free from harm and help you to REMEMBER and be THANKFUL.
God, bless you and God bless America is my desire and prayer!