Freedom comes at a cost.
155 years ago, on the very first National Decoration Day, President James Garfield made this statement to those gathered at Arlington Cemetery: For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue. For the noblest man that lives, there still remains a conflict. He must still withstand the assaults of time and fortune, must still be assailed with temptations, before which lofty natures have fallen; but with these the conflict ended, the victory was won, when death stamped on them the great seal of heroic character, and closed a record which years can never blot. (James Garfield, May 30, 1868)
We are forever grateful for the selfless sacrifice that soldiers gave to carry out the missions to which they were assigned and to protect the freedoms they treasured for future generations to enjoy. To honor their sacrifice is to honor the freedoms we have been given in our country without abusing them or using them to impinge on the freedoms of others. To honor their sacrifice is to never take our country for granted, but take time to remember our past, its failures and successes, to repent of our national sins that have created discord and division, to understand and protect the moral fabric which truly protects life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, to encourage values of hard work, personal responsibility, and excellence that allow our country to prosper as well as stand ready to help others less fortunate than we.
We live in memory of many military giants who traversed the fields at Gettysburg, navigated the trenches of Europe, stormed the beaches of Normandy, slugged through the marshes in Vietnam, walked the roads in Afghanistan, traveled the convoys in Iraq, and engaged in many other points of combat around the world. Many of those that perished were young men and women who lost the life they had and the life yet to be lived. All who perish leave behind parents who grieve, spouses who live alone, children who miss a parent, and friends and fellow soldiers who feel the empty hole in their hearts.
A day of remembrance doesn’t fill the hole these men and women have left, but I pray it gives pause to give significance to the sacrifice they made.
I am forever grateful for those who serve in our armed forces, men and women, who stand ready, stand proud, and stand strong to give me and my family the blessing of peace and freedom to enjoy today. Thank you. I and our nation are forever grateful for the sacrifice you have made. You are a gift from God.
Psalm 118:29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Apply: In grateful reflection and prayer, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6OS-gR-zqI
Prayer: God of all nations and ruler of all. We give you thanks for the nation in which we live and for the freedoms which we enjoy. May we use this gift to not just preserve the freedom of our country, but to proclaim and preserve the freedom of forgiveness which you have given to us through the ultimate sacrifice of your son, Jesus Christ. In his name we pray. AMEN.