John 15:13 – “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
It’s the one day a year that we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and pray for the ones left behind. We have Armed Forces Day on the third Saturday of May and Veterans Day November 11. These holidays celebrate the living – those who are serving and those who survived. But today, we remember and appreciate the ultimate sacrifice performed by many.
I had the privilege this spring of visiting Arlington National Cemetery. It was a sobering experience. Six hundred twenty-five acres of sacrifice. Some died in battle and some did not. But all sacrificed in one way or another. I also witnessed the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier. What a beautifully haunting ceremony. These soldiers are so meticulous in all that they do because of their respect to someone they don’t know and never met. That’s what Memorial Day is all about – respect and appreciation for those we never knew and never met who laid down their life for you and me.
My heart has been torn in two multiple times this last week with posts on Facebook. I saw one the other day of a young woman sleeping on the floor by her husband’s casket with a Marine standing guard just so she could sleep next to him one last time. I have seen a mom laying on a blanket of memories by a white grave marker holding her tiny baby. And the list could go on and on. It breaks my heart. These loved ones who have nothing but a picture and their memories to pass down to their children who will never feel the love of their fallen parent.
But I am grateful. I am so thankful for the men and women who have given their lives for my freedom. We maintain the freedom of speech because of them. We maintain the freedom of religion because of them. We maintain the right to bear arms because of them. If we fail to remember and appreciate their sacrifice, what are we teaching the next generation? How are we honoring the fallen if all we focus on is barbecues and parties?
So this Memorial Day, I implore you to take a moment out of your day off and party and whatever else might fill your time and say “thank you.” We should be grateful and thankful to God for providing our country with soldiers who were willing and ready to to make the ultimate sacrifice. And we should say “thank you” to the ones left behind. For they make a daily sacrifice as well – facing the future without the ones that they love. They too need our prayers.