“Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives.” –John Adams
In Honor of American Patriots
Memorial Day is reserved to honor the service and sacrifice of generations of now-departed American Patriots, those of our Armed Services who held fast to their sacred oaths “to support and defend” the Liberty enshrined in our Constitution. Accordingly, please visit our tribute page to fallen American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.
On Monday, flags should be flown at half-staff until noon, your local time. Observe a moment of silence at 3:00 p.m. local time for remembrance and prayer. Please give a personal word of gratitude and comfort to surviving family members who grieve for a beloved warrior.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” –John 15:13
“What do you think of when you see a little American flag in front of a Veteran’s headstone? Let me tell you about one flag. As a fighter pilot on my 93rd mission over North Vietnam, my F-105 was hit by an air-to-air missile and my Electronic Warfare Officer Harold Johnson and I, were forced to eject. After unsuccessful rescue attempts, we were captured by enemy forces and imprisoned in the infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ for the next six years. One day in our sixth year of imprisonment, a young Navy pilot named Mike Campbell found a piece of cloth in a gutter. After we collected some other small rags, he worked secretly at night to piece them together into a flag. He made red from ground-up roof tiles and blue from tiny amounts of ink, then used rice glue to paste the colors onto the rags. Using thread from his blanket and a homemade bamboo needle, he sewed the pieces together, adding white fragments for stars. One morning he whispered from the back of our cell, ‘Hey gang, look here,’ and proudly held up that tattered American flag, waving it as if in a breeze. We all snapped to attention and saluted – with tears in our eyes. A week later, the guards were searching our cells and found Mike’s flag. That night they pulled him out of the cell and, for his simple gesture of patriotism, they tortured him. At daylight they pushed what was left of Mike back through the cell door. Today, whenever I see our flag, I think of Mike and the morning he first waved that tattered emblem of our great nation. It was then, thousands of miles from home, imprisoned by a brutal enemy, that he courageously demonstrated the liberty it represents, and that is what I see in every American flag today.”
Col. Leo K. Thorsness (USAF Ret.), Medal of Honor, POW – Vietnam (1967-1973)
Don’t Take Liberty for Granted
May 26 is Memorial Day. We often think of it in terms of a three day weekend more than anything else. I want to challenge you to truly celebrate Memorial Day with your family this year.
As we consider how to honor our lost servicemen and women, it is only appropriate to look to the story of the greatest sacrifice of all time.
The most decisive victory of all mankind was earned by the sacrifice of one man. Jesus Christ purchased the fullest freedom we can experience this side of Heaven. In the Garden of Gethsemane, just before He was crucified, Jesus prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39). No soldier, marine, airman or sailor desires death. But every single one of them has made the ultimate sacrifice already – they have laid down their own wills for a higher one. And for many, that sacrifice meant the laying down of their lives as well.
Christians gather together to take communion to remember Jesus’ body broken and blood poured out, His life offered up on our behalf.
Taking communion is a powerful act that serves a bigger purpose than remembrance alone. In the same way, Memorial Day holds deeper significance than merely remembering.
Before communion, we are supposed to search our hearts. What sins have I not brought to the light? Who do I need to forgive? Who do I need to seek forgiveness from? Communion is an invitation to survey the true condition of our souls, and initiate reconciliation and healing within the church.
What better way is there to honor those who died to preserve this country than to stop and consider the state of our nation? How have we taken our freedom for granted? Are we still, truly, the land of the free and the home of the brave? Would those who gave their lives in generations past be proud or dismayed? Where is tyranny or oppression sneaking in and how can we eradicate it? What are the weaknesses and threats and how can we turn them into strengths?
Even though Christ already purchased freedom for us from the tyranny of our sinful natures, we remember His sacrifice, in part, to be encouraged. We reflect on the truth that the war has been won – that we know good conquers evil – and we are strengthened. It increases our resolve to keep fighting our small daily battles to maintain our freedom. We must choose daily to walk in the freedom Jesus purchased.
Though our mortal victories could never compare to the victory Christ secured on the cross, the victories won by the honored men and women who gave their lives for our country should always be remembered and honored. It is so important that we remember them and reflect on why they gave their lives. Then we, as a nation, will be strengthened and encouraged.
This Memorial Day is the perfect time to teach your children about the high price of freedom. And it offers a golden opportunity for each one of us to amp up our own resolve to fight the small daily battles against all enemies both foreign and domestic, so that those battles might never turn into a bloody battlefield.