Today is Memorial Day, the 140th anniversary of a day set aside to remember and thank God for all those who have died protecting our country and the freedom we enjoy and all too often take for granted. This day is important, but it seems that the sobering and significant purpose of the occasion has been misplaced behind barbecues and sales at the mall.
I remember a few years back I was walking on the beach with a film crew in Southern California interviewing people about the significance of the holiday. I asked why on a Monday were they not at work or school? Many were able to name the reason as being Memorial day and some proudly stated that our troops who have died deserve our respect and gratitude. But I was shocked at the amount that didn’t know what they were supposed to remember. Kind of defeats the purpose of the day– but they seemed glad to be at the beach nonetheless. Several told me it was Labor day and still another said they thought it had something to do with a battle that America had won. One young man said it was a day to mark the beginning of Summer.
The truth is we are very quick to forget very important things and this is as true historically as it is spiritually.
Read these words delivered by PRESIDENT HARRY S. TRUMAN, in a radio address to the armed forces on April 17, 1945, less than a month before the surrender of Nazi Germany to Allied forces during World War II.
“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices. Because of these sacrifices, the dawn of justice and freedom throughout the world slowly casts its gleam across the horizon. At this decisive hour in history, it is very difficult to express my feelings. Words will not convey what is in my heart.”
This is the kind of attitude we ought to have today. I am deeply thankful for those who have served and those who are serving our country in the armed forces, especially in far away places like Afghanistan or Iraq, this Memorial Day. Make sure to keep those in prayer who are grieving as they remember their loved ones who have laid their life down in the name of Freedom. Pray that God would comfort them and if they don’t know Him that they would give their lives to Jesus. In the sacrifices many men and women have made, literally laying down their lives for others we also see a demonstration of the kind of love Jesus showed us. He laid down His life in an act of love for the world that we might be spiritually and eternally set free.