Summary: Memorial Day sermon with a Gospel message.

Freedom: Free, but Costly

Chuck Sligh

May 27, 2012

POWERPOINT: There is a PowerPoint presentation for this sermon available by requesting it from me at

TEXT: John 15:13 – “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”


Memorial Day was established in 1868 to honor the fallen soldiers of the Civil War. It has grown to become a solemn recognition of all of our nation’s war dead and the high price of our freedom.

It’s something we often fail to explain properly to our children.

Illus. – A church had a bulletin board decorated in red, white and blue with pictures of soldiers who had been killed in service to their country. A little boy was looking up at the board when the pastor came up, so he asked the pastor what the board was about. He explained that the pictures were the men from their church who over the century or so had “died in the service,” by which he meant, in the service of their country. But the way he said it is the way many civilians say it: “They died in the service.” The little boy was quiet a moment, and then he asked, “¿The morning service or the evening service?”

Well, so far we’ve never lost anybody in one of our services!

We laugh, but Memorial Day is no laughing matter to us in our community for we’ve ALL attended the memorial ceremony for someone who lost his life in Iraq or Afghanistan. And to some of you soldiers Memorial Day is not academic or abstract: someone in your unit, or perhaps even a buddy—someone you knew PERSONALLY—is among that group we say gave his life in the service of our country.

As we honor the heroes who have given us our freedom this Memorial Day Sunday, let me share two thoughts with you.


We have amazing freedoms as Americans.

• We can worship as we choose, or pray to whomever we please, or not worship or pray at all, because we’re free.

• We can say nearly anything we want—even about the highest leaders in the land.

• We can move about freely, live anywhere we wish, and own our own property.

• We can work hard and make a good living, or we can lie around and be lazy.

We’re FREE! But our freedoms did not come without great cost. There was a price that had to be paid for our freedoms—many times over.

Many have died on the battlefields in all of America’s wars to preserve our freedom.

• They died in the War of Independence in places like Lexington and Concord.

• They died in the Civil War in places like Gettysburg and Chattanooga.

• They died in World War I in places like Verdun and the Argonne Forest.

• They died in World War II in places like Normandy and Iwo Jima.

• They died in the Korean War in places like Qusan, Inchon and Chosin.

• They died in the Vietnam War in places like Khe Sanh, and Dien Bien Phu.

• They died in Iraq, and they are dying still in Afghanistan.

These men died for the freedoms we enjoy. We’re free, but that freedom wasn’t secured without cost: SOMEBODY paid the price for us to enjoy the freedoms we have.

POEM: I love the following poem titled, “Freedom Isn’t Free” by Air Force Junior ROTC Cadet Major Kelly Strong:

I watched the flag pass by one day.

It fluttered in the breeze

A young soldier saluted it, and then

He stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform

So young, so tall, so proud

With hair cut square and eyes alert

He’d stand out in any crowd.

I thought how many men like him

Had fallen through the years.

How many died on foreign soil?

How many mothers’ tears?

How many Pilots’ planes shot down?

How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?

No Freedom isn’t free

I heard the sound of taps one night,

When everything was still.

I listened to the bugler play

And felt a sudden chill.

I wondered just how many times

That taps had meant "Amen"

When a flag had draped a coffin of a brother or a friend.

I thought of all the children,

Of the mothers and the wives,

Of fathers, sons and husbands

With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard at the bottom of the sea

Of unmarked graves in Arlington…

No—Freedom isn’t free!

You see, there IS a sense in which freedom IS free. It’s free to me as an American citizen.

• I really don’t have to serve in the U.S. military if I don’t want to—and I’m still free.

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