This coming weekend is Memorial Day weekend. Many Americans will head to the beach, lake, backyard for a barbecue. We will be inundated with various sales pitches on television, radio, and the internet. I will never understand what recognizing those brave men and women who sacrificed their lives in defense of liberty has to do with getting a good deal on a new mattress or SUV. Then again, I also do not know what a chubby and plump, right jolly old elf has to do with the birth of the Christ Child, or a bunny with Jesus rising from the grave. We are a funny people.
Memorial Day is significantly different from Veteran’s Day or Armed Forces Day. Veteran’s Day is a celebration of those who have served our nation. Armed Forces Day is meant to recognize those who are currently serving. Memorial Day is more solemn. On this day, we remember those gave the ultimate sacrifice. I include Veterans who served and have now gone on to their reward. Nonetheless, it is a day to contemplate, to remember their sacrifice.
Did you know the average age of a serviceman in WW II? Twenty-six years old. Their lives had hardly begun, and yet, they left all that they knew in order to defend freedom all over the world. Those who served in Vietnam were an average of nineteen years old. Nineteen! They cannot even legally drink in America yet, but they can fight for America. Do you know someone who is nineteen? Maybe a son or daughter. Can you imagine them crawling through jungles in Southeast Asia?
Jesus said to the disciples at the Last Supper, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). That’s what Jesus did for us, and that is what more than 1.3 million Americans have done to defend us since the American Revolution. In Jesus’ case, how do we thank Him? Romans 12:1 says, “…give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable.” We are to live lives in a way that glorifies and honors Him. How do we thank American soldiers, airmen, sailors, and Marines? We only ask for one day (not a lifetime). One day. So, on top of getting a great deal on a new car or flat-screen TV, pause and thank God for those who gave their lives. Pray for the families who were never able to celebrate weddings and grandchildren, because their loved ones never came home.
I will always be humbled by those who willingly put themselves in the line of fire so that I would not have to – those who served and are serving. Thank you, Lord, for raising up such men and women. However, this weekend, I want to especially recognize those who laid down their lives for this nation that I also love.
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