Ok, fire up the barbeque, get out the shorts and flip flops… it’s a holiday! After all, that’s what holidays are for, right? Right???….
Memorial Day… this is a day of remembrance for those who have died serving our country, protecting its freedoms, and allowing us to live the way we do. We take a day, we make some quotes, we give thanks… but what do we really remember?
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to go to Macau. A beautiful little set of islands off the coast of China that has been used and occupied and exploited for many a year. Macau is currently known for its casinos and Grand Prix, but there is something in the middle of the city that holds my heart.
The ruins of St. Paul is a fascinating structure, not just because of its history, surviving many attempts to burn it to the ground, but also because of what it contains. Underneath the cathedral there is a crypt, if you will, holding the bones of Jesuit missionaries sent out from St. Paul, who had been martyred in the countries they served. I was awestruck seeing it – here was the real representation of taking faith to the ultimate level – of giving your all, not for yourself, but so others could have what you cherish. Seeing this caused me to think about my path, my ministry, who and how I serve, and to what lengths I have gone to give what I have to others. Interestingly, it is not a comparison – I don’t think in terms of “them giving more”, but of continuing to give. They sacrificed their life, so I make my life a sacrifice.
Since I have a son in the military, I am a little more sensitive to the sacrifice that others have had to make. I remember the first time Josh told me that he was training to go into a war zone. My heart sank, just thinking of the possibility that he might lay it all down on the field of battle. Yet, I could not be more proud of him, for he willingly chose this path, knowing the cost. Thankfully, Josh is still with me, but there are so many others who were not afforded the same good will.
What do we remember, when we think of those that have laid down their lives for us? Do we put ourselves in the crypt to see the reality of their sacrifice? Do we wonder what they would say to us in seeing the way we respond (or don’t respond) to their ultimate gift?
I have friends, and I’m sure you do too, who have had loved ones who have passed away. My friends tell me that their loved ones still speak to them, or sometimes they can just feel them watching over them. My friends live in such a way as to honor the memory of their loved ones… as if their loved ones are standing right there with them in whatever they are doing. I think this is the perfect way of looking at life, and of responding to the remembrance of those brave soldiers who have given their lives so we can live: live as if they are standing right with us.
In Hebrews, it says
We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away
I think that is also true when it comes to our fallen soldiers: we need to pay attention to the sacrifice they have made, and others continue to make, so we don’t take our freedoms, our culture, and our society so lightly. They fought and died for something. We should live and demonstrate the life for which they sacrificed their own.
So, in between the barbeques, the water slides, the trips out of town and the parades, take a few moments to remember… to really remember those that fought for the life you live. And, as you remember, ask yourself, am I living in a way that honors their sacrifice? Here’s to all who have given the ultimate sacrifice. May we always remember what you have done for us. Thank you.
There will be parades this weekend for various things, but few quite like this one. It’s only 2 minutes long, but worth the time to watch, to remember, to reflect and to honor our fallen.
Public Law 106-579 mandates the remembrance of fallen soldiers on Memorial day. What I find interesting is that it doesn’t stop there. In section 6 of the law it states:
encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity
You can read the full text of the law here: https://www.congress.gov/106/plaws/publ579/PLAW-106publ579.pdf