Monday, May 29, 2017

Living Up to the Memories of Memorial Day

I first posted this on 5/30/16, Memorial Day last year. I read it again last night and realized that I've already said what needed to be said, and it's still true. I'm positing it again with the hope that you'll read it once more and find it as meaningful as I did. 

Memorial Day is not about picnics or an extra day off work. Those are nice, of course, but Memorial Day is about the men and women who gave their lives, their bodies, and, sometimes, their minds, for our nation... who suffered, too often for the rest of their lives, because of what they experienced on our behalf. 

They fought for honor and freedom, and today's our chance to reclaim a little of both. 

Let's remember them today, but, more importantly, let's live every day as if we remember. 

Not everything you read on the internet is true, especially about Memorial Day. Today, I intended to check the date of the first Memorial Day and was astounded by the number of places that claimed to have started the day of remembrance. According to Wikipedia (admittedly, not always a bastion of truth), there is documentation to support the claim that, in 1862, women in Savannah, Ga. decorated the graves of Confederate soldiers.

That may be true, but here's what I know for sure. After the Civil War, there were mothers who grieved for their sons. Sisters who grieved for their brothers. Daughters who grieved for their fathers. Wives who grieved for their husbands. 

In the South, we visit the graves of those we love. We decorate those graves with flowers, if we can. It's a kind of "sprucing up" that makes the grave seem less cold and barren.

If there was a mother with a son in the ground, that grave was visited and, probably, decorated. She grieved for that son. She remembered him, and not just because some government mandate proclaimed the day. 

She remembered him every single day. She missed her boy as long as she drew breath. Nothing about that grief has changed today. Mothers still grieve for their sons and daughters who die in battle. 

We all grieve for our lost ones.

On Memorial Day, we remember and honor the soldiers who died while in service. What's easy to forget is that every solider who has fought and killed the enemy in battle leaves a part of themselves on the battlefield. Every soldier who kills, although righteously, has a little death of their own.

I know about it firsthand because my daddy fought, and was wounded, in World War II. He came home with the scars to prove it. Because he wasn't wounded in battle, he turned down the Purple Heart. It was one of our own soldiers that shot him. That wound, and his time in service, left scars deep inside that plagued him for the rest of his life.

We have lots of veterans who've lost a piece of themselves in service, and, because of my daddy, I see Memorial Day as a chance to remember them all. To honor them all.  A day to pray that our God, who will one day wipe away every tear and heal every hurt, will do that for the men and women who have served our nation.

They bought our freedom with their hearts and with their blood, and we have accepted their sacrifice with such casualness in recent years that I'm ashamed of us. Ashamed of myself for not doing something to bring about a change. But I'm not in charge of changing hearts, though I sometimes wish I were. 

We were a great nation, built and preserved by men and women willing to die for us to stay free. We, as a people, have chased a dream that cannot satisfy, abandoned our solid foundation of truth, and become shallow and foolish in the process. 

The men and women who died for us didn't die so that we could have big houses and fancy cars and decadent lifestyles.

They fought and died so that we could have freedom of religion, speech, and press. Freedom to bear arms. Freedom from search and seizure. Fair trials by a jury of our peers. Freedom from excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment. Freedom from excessive federal intervention in our lives (States' rights). 

In case you didn't recognize them, those are the freedoms guaranteed in our Bill of Rights. Those rights are our foundation and the cornerstone of these United States.

They are worth preserving because the kind of freedom we've had is rare and precious. If you don't believe me, look around at the nations of the world. Our freedoms are evaporating like dew on a hot morning, and change is coming. We won't like it. I promise you that.

We will have exchanged true freedom for a tawdry sham of freedom, and we will grieve what we've lost. If we have the sense to recognize it.

The people of God CAN make a difference. If we will. But we cannot do it with boycotts and harsh words. I know those things make us feel like we're doing something, and they have their place, but there is nothing in scripture about doing a boycott to change a nation.

What God says about changing a nation, about saving a nation that's dying, is this:

If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 nasb

If the people of God do not do what must be done, our nation will perish. 

If the nation doesn't hold us responsible, they should. 

We can save our nation, if we will. But we cannot save America if we continue to be complacent about our own personal sin, arrogant about our supposed righteousness, and halfhearted about our commitment to our Lord. 

It is past time for those who claim to be the people of God to step up to the plate, hit their knees, repent, turn, and pray. We're the only ones who can save America, but we will have to do it on our knees. 

On this day of remembrance, let's honor those who've died for us, but let's also take time to remember the reason they died and what we've lost as a nation. On this day, let's make a start to save this once-great country. 

It's too big a job for us, but I'm confident of one truth. Saving America is not too big for our God.
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In case you missed it, here's the link for yesterdays post: Touching the Mezuzah and Remembering the Plan 

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