Sermon Illustrations

IN A FEW DAYS WE WILL CELEBRATE MEMORIAL DAY. It was unofficially begun by women of the South during the Civil War when they placed flowers over the graves of the “men in gray.”

In 1868, General John A. Logan, Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued an order officially setting aside May 30 as “Decoration Day.” It has now become an occasion on which we remember not only those who have fallen in war, but all our dead veterans.

A few years ago a wall was built in Washington D.C. and on it were inscribed the names of the thousands who had died in the Vietnam War, perhaps the most controversial war in our nation’s history. But regardless of what people thought about that war, this wall memorial reminds us that thousands of Americans sacrificed their lives in that far-off place.

Most of them were young people who wanted to hold on to life. Their names are on that wall. One of them was a young man from one of the families in my home church---a wonderful Christian family. I’ll never forget standing beside his coffin as he was buried with military honors.

All of us owe these young men and women a great debt. Down through the years, in many wars, millions have sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom, so it is fitting for us to remember them as a nation.

I recall watching a video on the news that was profound in its message. Someone had taped a man standing next to the Vietnam Memorial. His right hand was extended to the wall and he was gently caressing someone’s name that was etched into that wall. It was very moving. Over and over again, he repeated these words: “He died for me. He died for me.” Was it a brother? A father? A friend? We’ll never know. But one thing is for certain---the man was visibly moved by the sacrifice of one man!

Just a few years ago, while living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, I had the opportunity to visit the “traveling wall.” Did you know that there are two smaller versions of the one in Washington that travel throughout the United States? This enables citizens who cannot travel to D.C. to experience the sensations that arise when you stand beside this most unusual mobile monument. Once again, I found Dick’s name among the thousands and stood silently, pondering his sacrifice. And that experience set me to thinking.

Each time we enter a church we must remember another sacrifice. We must erect a monument in our mind. For you...

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