Today begins "Memorial Day weekend", although the official holiday is Monday, May 31st. It is the day that our country remembers and honors those men and women who have died in the service of our country. It is also a day that we honor all veterans who have selflessly contributed to the safety and protection of our nation.
The Bible is full of stories of such warriors ... Samson, David and Joshua are memorialized as valiant protectors of their people. And from Isaac Davis, the first officer to be killed in the American Revolutionary War, to Nathan Chapman, the first American soldier to be killed in combat in the war in Afghanistan, this nation has seen no shortage of men and women who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the ideals this country stands for.
Sure, we all like to hang flags [and wave them] on this day, but let's not let the celebration with BBQ and beer exceed the spirit of this solemn holiday. Don't just hang a flag outside your door. Tell your children and grandchildren why you are making that statement. And then make sure they know the cost of their freedoms. The numbers don't lie. Historians think that nearly 25,000 Americans died establishing our freedom from Great Britain. Over 600,000 soldiers died in the Civil War; over 500,000 in WWI and WWII, with 140,000 buried throughout military cemeteries in Europe. We lost nearly 68,000 brave Americans in the rice fields and jungles of VietNam, and, as of February of this year, 7036 have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Have these all been "righteous" wars? ... I think, you know the answer to that. But that is squarely laid at the feet of politicians and the New World Order. Today, my goal is to recognize and commemorate the memories of those who fought for the right reasons. This is about one person laying down his life for another. This holiday is about what America stands for, and those who fought to preserve that ideal. Let's recapture what America symbolizes.
This weekend, through Monday, let's be reminded of what William Gladstone, the leading British statesman of the Victorian era, who served as Britain's Prime Minister [four times] said, "Show me the manner in which a nation or a community cares for its dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender sympathies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land, and their loyalty to high ideals." For me, those high ideals are the moral principles established by our God in His Word. These are all principles we are in danger of losing [as evidenced over the last couple of years]. And I would like to offer them to all of you .... those who served and are remembering their fallen comrades; and to those of us who have not served on the battlefield, but will pray with you [and for you] as you salute and mourn those that have died. Think upon these Scriptures and these sentiments as you celebrate Memorial Day this year ...
• No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends. (John 14:13)
• "The brave never die, though they sleep in dust: Their courage serves a thousand living men." –Minot J. Savage (Pastor and Author, 1918)
• Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)
• "Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it." –Unknown
• Blessed be the Lord, my Rock and my great strength, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle; My [steadfast] lovingkindness and My fortress, My high tower and my rescuer, My shield and He in whom I take refuge.... (Psalm 144:1-2)
• "This nation will remain the land of the free only as long as it is home of the brave." –Elmer Davis, Director of the United States Office of War Information during World War II
Finally, reflect upon those words and the principles that motivated our citizens to pick up a gun and fight for freedom, both here and abroad. Memorial Day represents those who died protecting these important principles. The memories of our Fallen Heroes deserve to be recognized. Monday is not about hotdogs, hamburgers and family gatherings. It's about restoring respect for the sacrifice made for you and me. Let each of us do our part in restoring the true meaning of Memorial Day. Dedicate one moment out of the day to give thanks to a veteran who did his part for this great country of ours. We owe them that .... and so much more.
I am dedicating this post and blog to the memory of Captain John Hardy, USAF, a pilot who was shot down over North Vietnam. At the age of 16, I wore an MIA bracelet bearing his name, and I wore it for years. It wasn't until around the year 2000, that I discovered that there was a website where you could find out the status of MIA/POW soldiers in the VietNam War, that I learned of his fate. Throughout the years, I had always prayed for him, and hoped he had made it home. I was devastated to find out that he died in the jungles of that far-off country. I never knew him, but he was more than a name on a silver bracelet. In the year 2004, I had the opportunity to visit the VietNam War Memorial in Washington D.C., and the impact of that long black marble wall with all those names on it was overwhelming. I have a pencil rub of his name, and I keep it in the Bible my grandmother gave me, and I will honor his memory for the rest of my life. Here is his official status as listed on THE WALL, a website devoted to those who gave their lives in that war: