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Summary: God's Calling to ministry compared to the call to service to American Veterans.

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A Call To Duty

Memorial Day Message

Is 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here [am] I; send me.

It is gratitude that prompted an old man to visit an old broken pier on the eastern seacoast of Florida. Every Friday night, until his death in 1973, he would return, walking slowly and slightly stooped with a large bucket of shrimp. The sea gulls would flock to this old man, and he would feed them from his bucket. Many years before, in October, 1942, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea.

But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life.

Somewhere over the South Pacific the Flying Fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, so the men ditched their plane in the ocean...

For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, and the weather, and the scorching sun. They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. The largest raft was nine by five. The biggest shark...ten feet long.

But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them. And a miracle occurred.

In Captain Eddie's own words, "Cherry, that was the B-17 pilot, Captain William Cherry, 'read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off.

Now this is still Captain Rickenbacker talking...'something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull. I don't know how I knew, I just knew. Everyone else knew too. No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull. The gull meant food...if I could catch it.

And the rest, as they say, is history. Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. Its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice. You know that Captain Eddie made it.

And now you also know...that he never forgot. Because every Friday evening, about sunset...on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast...you could see an old man walking...white-haired, bushy-eyebrowed, slightly bent. His bucket filled with shrimp was to feed the gulls...to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle...like manna in the wilderness.

I) A Day of Rememberance

Memorial Day was originally started right after the Civil War as a remembrance for those who had given their lives in service in that great conflict. It was originally known as Decoration Day.

Years later, after WWI, the observance was expanded to include the war dead from all wars in which the US was involved. The name "Memorial Day" was originally used in 1882, but wasn't used widely until just after WWII, then became Federal Law in 1967. It was originally held in April, then on May 30th, then ended up being the last Monday in May when the Federal government changed it and four other Monday holidays—President's Day, Columbus Day and Veteran's Day—to make long weekends.

It is right and proper that we remember our war dead this holiday weekend. Those who paid the ultimate price—paying with their lives—we too often take for granted and too often forget.

Looking back through the corridors of time, we think of the sacrifices made at Valley Forge, where many died of starvation; in the Civil War where many God fearing people on both sides of the conflict died; World War I, which was called the war to end all wars, with the men that died from both gunfire and in dogfights over Europe and also that horrible death from mustard gas; WWII, which was incredible in it's scope of destruction and in the loss of life from Normandy to Midway to the Philippines and more; the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War and more recently conflicts in Iraq. War is inevitable and will continue to occur until Jesus sits on the throne of David in Jerusalem.

These conflicts, and many others that our great country has been involved in, have cost our families much grief and despair but have secured and continued our freedom that we hold so dear.

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