Summary: Freedom always come with a price. This Memorial Day lets remember those who gave their lives for our nation’s freedom.
THE PRICE OF FREEDOM
(Thanks to K. Edward Skidmore, Robert Leroe, and John Shearheart for their contributions)
A. Tomorrow our nation will celebrate Memorial Day.
1. Many people see Memorial Day merely as a three-day WEEKEND.
Memorial Day is much more than an EXTENDED WEEKEND, BARBEQUES, and the INDIANAPOLIS 500. It is a DAY set aside to remember those whom have given their LIVES for our COUNTRY and the FREEDOMS we ENJOY.
2. Memorial Day was originally a day set aside in REMEMBRANCE of the Civil War Dead, and was
extended to HONOR all the WAR DEAD.
Columbus, Mississippi is the city in the South claiming to have started the HOLIDAY while Waterloo, New York is the northern city competing for the same honor. It traces its roots back to 1868 when General John Logan, of the Grand Army of the Republic, declared May 30th as a day of remembrance.
Flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The day was originally called “Decoration Day.” It is sometimes called “Poppy Day” because artificial red poppies, which were made by disabled veterans, are sold. The money is used to benefit servicemen in need. In December of 2000, Congress passed a resolution which asks all Americans “to voluntarily and informally observe a Moment of Remembrance and Respect,” at 3:00 local time.
3. Can anything be more IRONIC than our nation’s MILITARY?
Think about it: They love America, so they spend long years in FOREIGN LANDS far from her shores. They revere FREEDOM, yet they sacrifice their OWN so that others may be FREE. They DEFEND their own right to live as INDIVIDUALS, yet SURRENDER their INDIVIDUALITY when they JOINED the ARMED FORCES. Perhaps, most paradoxically of all, they VALUE LIFE, yet so BRAVELY they ready themselves to DIE in the SERVICE of their COUNTRY.
B. Today we REMEMBER the ULTIMATE SACRIFICE of those whom have given their LIVES in BATTLE so that we can LIVE in FREEDOM.
On Nov. 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln stood on the battlefield at Gettysburg to dedicate a portion of that land as a national cemetery. The featured speaker of the day was Edward Everett, acclaimed as possibly the greatest classical orator of his time. A former United States senator, Governor of Massachusetts, and President of Harvard University, he spoke for more than two hours to an audience of over 25,000 people. His was a masterful address, broad in its scope and dramatic in its presentation.
Next was a musical interlude by the Baltimore Glee Club. And then, finally, President Lincoln was formally introduced, and the people settled back down in their chairs and on the grass to listen to him.
Lincoln spoke simply and clearly, and startled the people by the briefness of his remarks. After his opening sentences he said:
“We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It
is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
“But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here; but it can never forget what they did here.
“It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
We are ONE NATION today because of the great battle fought at Gettysburg. There are other great BATTLE GROUNDS that we shouldn’t forget: Valley Forge, Pearl Harbor, Flanders Field, Omaha Beach, Iwo Jima, Pork Chop Hill, the Mekong Delta, Desert Storm, the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and now the WAR in Afghanistan and Iraq—what scenes of COURAGE and CARNAGE for the PRICE of FREEDOM!
I. THE REALITY OF FREEDOM
A. I do not know what it’s like to put your LIFE on the LINE for the FREEDOM of our NATION.
1. I never served in the MILITARY.
On August 5, 1971 when the DRAFT LOTTERY NUMBERS were drawn for men born in 1952 to serve in Vietnam, my number was 134. They took men up to #95. And, quite honestly, I was RELIEVED.