With another Memorial Day upon us, it’s great to remember those who laid down their lives for their country.
On November 21, 1864, President Lincoln wrote to a Mrs. Bixby of Massachusetts, who had lost five sons in the Civil War.
He wrote her, “I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.”
Then he added this beautiful prayer: “I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”
In his classic song, “Proud to be an American,” Lee Greenwood sings, “And I won’t forget the man who died who gave that right to me….” Yet it’s easy enough to forget that man or woman who gave that right to all of us.
Give thanks for our freedoms
Memorial Day is a good time for all Americans to give thanks for our hard-fought freedoms. Think of the bloody footprints in the snow at Valley Forge from our soldiers who endured that savage winter of 1777-1778. They did it for us. Jesus said it best, “No greater love has anyone than that he lay down his life for his friends.” But are we using this freedom well?
In a cemetery in England, there’s a grave that states: “Remember man, as you walk by,
As you are now, so once was I. As I am now, you soon will be. Prepare yourself and follow me.”
Somebody scrawled underneath that message the following response: “To follow you I’ll not consent, Until I know which way you went.”
Which direction is America heading? For now, America is following Europe into a socialistic mess of unsustainable cradle to grave government care. Political correctness rules the day, even to some extent in the military.
Try to understand the sacrifice
One family that knows the high price of our freedom is Billy and Karen Vaughn, parents of Aaron Vaughn, a Navy Seal whose helicopter was shot down on August 6, 2011 in Afghanistan.
In a TV interview several years ago, Karen Vaughn told our viewers to D. James Kennedy Ministries, “Memorial Day last year was probably one of the hardest days that we’ve suffered, probably worse than Christmas and Thanksgiving, Aaron’s birthday, anything, it was the hardest day and I think the reason why…was because it was the first time that we were personally affected by the cost of freedom.”
She added, “We thought that we understood what it cost. I can tell you until you’re personally affected by it, you cannot possibly understand what this freedom costs; and it does make us fight more to try to make people understand what’s being sacrificed on their behalf.”
Are you forgetting anything?
I remember seeing a poignant political cartoon related to Memorial Day. It shows a man firing up his grill and going through his checklist of various items. It went along these lines: “Let’s see. I’ve got the hamburgers, the hot dogs, the buns, am I forgetting anything…?”
Arising out of the grill is the smoke, and in the smoke are the faces of fallen soldiers, men and women, who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation’s freedom.
Freedom is not free, and it’s worth remembering that at Memorial Day, as well as all year round. We thank God for the freedom we have to enjoy our freedoms. And we thank Him for those who sacrificed to ensure that liberty.
Dr. Jerry Newcombe is the executive director of Providence Forum, a division of D. James Kennedy Ministries.
Click here to learn more about the price of freedom.