What are your plans at 3:00 this Memorial Day?
For some, it might be a trip to the local grocery store where there’s an assortment of products neatly arranged to purchase; clean, government-inspected containers are stocked on shelves in air-conditioned buildings. Others may sit among a cheering crowd, holding an ice-cold Coca-Cola while watching their children hit a baseball across the field; they don’t need to be overly concerned about bug bites since the air is controlled by regulated amounts of insect repellant. With more than 1 billion people worldwide living on less than $1.00 a day, there are the global elite employees who still have the opportunity to work on a Federal holiday. Wherever we find ourselves on this beautiful, green pasture of prosperity and abundance, my prayer is that we will pause and remember those who paid a great price for our freedom.
Originally called Decoration Day on May 3, 1868, General James Garfield gave a speech at Arlington National Cemetery where 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there from the Civil War. Among the attendees were General and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant. In 1971, Congress passed the National Holiday Act officially observing Decoration Day as Memorial Day, a federal holiday to honor all heroes who lost their lives defending The United States of America. Unlike Veterans Day which honors heroes living or deceased who served in America’s Armed Forces, Memorial Day honors only those who died in war while defending America. These men and women went to their graves with dreams for us buried in their hearts; they followed in the footsteps of their Founding Fathers.
“Give me Liberty or give me Death!” — Patrick Henry, a Founding Father who was unable to sign The Declaration of Independence in which he inspired through his charge, declared that there could be no compromise for freedom in America, that death would already exist under British rule. Cited with scripture in his speech, Mr. Henry believed that his possible death for speaking his beliefs was not as detrimental as our American freedom aligned with God’s truth.
Can we still hear Mr. Henry’s words echo even today?
On a mission trip to Belize, a young boy, who lived inside of a board house the size of a small home office, asked my husband if he lived in a cement house. Hesitantly, my husband said, “yes.” The boy then asked, “Why do you have a cement house and I have a wood house?” Silently praying that God would give him an encouraging and wise answer, my husband remembered that he had a quarter in his pocket. As he gave the quarter to the young boy, he asked him to read the words inscribed on it. In English, the boy read, “In God We Trust.” My husband shared that our country was founded on obedience to God, and God blessed it. He then encouraged him to remain obedient to the Lord and to lead his country to do the same.
Our great country will celebrate its 237th birthday on July 4 this year — I can’t help but wonder if we see and hear the same country envisioned by the treasured men and women whom we honor today.
What happens to a country that refuses to obey God?
When we step inside our children’s classrooms, do we see the Bible as the official text as once was adopted by Thomas Jefferson, the first president of the Washington, D. C. school board? Can we any longer reflect upon a monument of The Ten Commandments displayed in our local courtrooms? In our churches, do we hear the word sin as was once preached by Jonathan Edwards in America’s great revival, or are we humored with the politically correct version of God’s word, ensuring that no one would ever feel the need for forgiveness from their savior? What about science and history? Is evolution now a fact with intelligence design completely removed from textbooks? Did Americans really celebrate the first Thanksgiving in Florida? Do we see hands saluted across hearts when we hear our nation’s anthem, “The Star-Spangled-Banner?” If not, why?!
We are not promised the freedom for which we are given unless we appreciate and honor the One who gives it. Today, let us obey God and carry the vision He placed in our Founding Fathers’ hearts for a God-fearing country. Today, let us remember those who died to give us our freedom, the heroes of the Armed Forces, and might I add– even those who wore fire, police, business suits, and even blue jeans! Let us remember those who died for us on land and sea, in planes and buildings. Let us respectfully pause and reflect.
Today, let us stand in a second of a minute of an hour, aware for the first time since our birth that we are still breathing. Yes, we are breathing, and our heart continues to pass life through our bodies, only this time we pause to notice. We see the delicate thread that holds us together. We are bound by our faith, and only Jesus can save us. We stand and remember those who stand in spirit, those who gave their all, those who fought the good fight that we may have this day –Free! As we stand, let us not forget freedom with responsibility; we are only free inasmuch as we choose to trust God with our country. Together we stand to support the wounded, the speechless, and the never forgotten. Today we stand, and we are fully awake to our calling, to do our part to make this country as it should be. We no longer live a mundane existence because such can’t exist in God’s kingdom. Instead, we see that to be alive is a gift from God, and that life should never be taken for granted. To live in America is a privilege and a blessing that we may rise and bless the hurting people of this world.
As we reflect upon our heroes today, let us rise to a greater call as Christians, ones who speak and act on behalf of God’s truth for our country. Let us not silence our voices among the masses; rather, let us boldly carry the vision that began in the hearts of men and women who died to pass this vision to us. How could we even begin to drop their baton– to do so would be unfair, unjust to those who died that we might live.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” –2 Timothy 1:7