Summary: Reflecting on the fallen heroes and patriots that served our country and comparing them to the martyrs and saints of the church.
May 30, 2010
I want to begin today by reading something I received in my e-mail last week.
It is the VETERAN, not the preacher,
who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the VETERAN, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the VETERAN, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the VETERAN, not the campus organizer,
who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the VETERAN, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the VETERAN, not the politician,
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the VETERAN who salutes the Flag,
It is the VETERAN who serves under the Flag.
It is the VETERAN who rests under the Flag.
Did you notice those last three refer to our flag?
We talk about our flag and we talk about the colors of courage. Did you know that when the Stars and Stripes were officially adopted in 1777 that the red, white and blue used for the flag had no meaning? Those colors did, however, have specific meaning in the Great Seal of the United States.
Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, while reporting to congress on the seal had this to say:
"The colors of the pales - the vertical stripes - are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence; Red, hardiness and valor; and Blue, the color of the chief - the broad band above the stripes - signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice."
In 1977 the House of Representatives published a book about the flag. In this book it states:
"The star is a symbol of heaven and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the strips is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun."
This flag is a symbol of our nation. It is the banner under which men and women fought and died to preserve the way of life for which our flag stands. In every battle, in every land, wherever our armed forces are found, the flag flies above them, around them and before them.
This weekend we celebrate a national holiday - Memorial Day. Memorial Day is about so much more than parades and picnics and backyard barbeques. It is a day we are to remember those who laid their lives on the line to give us and to maintain the freedoms that we enjoy today.
Freedom is not free. The freedom we enjoy came at a great cost to many people through the centuries.
We have our freedom and our liberty as citizens of this great country because of those who came before us.
Those who gave there all did it willingly because they believed that the outcome was more important than their own lives. Those men and women who sacrificed for us did so for the future good of their nation putting aside their personal comfort and safety.
The apostle John recorded these words of Jesus:
13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 - NIV)
We honor those who fought for our freedom giving their lives not just for friends and family but for total strangers.
I know that today is the day we remember those who lost their lives in the fight for our freedom but we also need to remember those who fought and survived and who are still fighting today.
Yes, we have Armed Forces Day to honor those who are presently serving in all the branches of service both here at home and all around the world.
And we have Veterans Day to honor those who have served in the past and are still with us today.
Yet this Memorial Day I think we need to honor not just those who died for our freedoms but those who fought in the past and those who are still fighting to guarantee our freedoms and way of life.
It is easy to remember those who died for the cause. Yet our veterans and those still serving have also had to make some sacrifices.
Many of them have had to leave their families for weeks, months and even years. They are off serving their country while their friends finish school and start working on their careers. Too often they lose their innocence because many men and women in the military see things that people shouldn't have to see.
I think of my father-in-law. He was called up to serve during World War 2 in the Burma-Chinese Theater of action. He was one of the lucky ones that made it home alive, but there was a cost for him.