As I sit here on Memorial Day, I have taken some time to pause, or as Pat Short said yesterday, “ponder.” I consider the meaning of Memorial Day to me. While it is true, I am a 28-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, it is because I’m an American that I want to express my thoughts about what Memorial Day means to me. I guess to start off, I really want everyone to know that I honor the battlefield fallen heroes, men and women who gave their life for our country, its people, and our freedom. My thoughts drift between those three words…country, people, and freedom.
“Country.” What is so special about this land we call our country? I will just say, I have traveled to many lands throughout this world, thanks to my military assignments, and one thing I must say, our country stands out in my mind as probably one of the most diverse lands in the world. It is filled with natural beauty everywhere I look…and I’ve been to nearly all of our states and many of our National Parks! Our country has so many natural resources too. They make up a huge part of our lives in that there is very little we do or touch that doesn’t contain something from our natural resources. I consider the plants, animals and insects found in our country and I could never name even a fraction of them! They are all amazing and new species are continually being discovered. I could go on, but my point is, these warriors we honor, especially on Memorial Day, loved their country so much they gave their life defending it so the land and everything in it could not be exploited and destroyed.
“People.” I have always said I have met good people from all over the world. Some of those people you might say was only an acquaintance while others I worked side-by-side with. What is profound about our people is that we are probably one of the most diverse populations in the world. Our people vary in heritage from Native Americans to Immigrant Americans. We are all proud of our heritage and we celebrate those heritages. Our people are smart, hardworking, fun-loving, strong, and caring. Sure, we have a few bad “apples” but the majority are exactly the kind of people with whom I would want by my side when defending the way of life we all enjoy. Each of these warriors we honor had a heritage, a family, friends, acquaintances that they loved so dearly, they gave their life protecting them from harmful acts the enemy could impose on them.
“Freedom.” I will say, in my travels, I’ve seen what effect the lack of freedom has on the human spirit. Let’s be honest, the human spirit desires freedom…I believe we were created by God that way. Our country began on the premise that we all want freedom. When our people join our military, they completely devote their lives to a sworn oath to “Support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” This oath is important to all who take it because the most important document securing everyone’s freedom is the Constitution and it will be defended to the last breath! I may now be retired from the military, but I want you to know that I will still defend it with my last breath! The warriors we honor today gave their life upholding their oath by defending our freedom with their lives.
Last breath…these warriors we honor DID give their last breath defending our country, our people, and our freedom. The prayer of this aging veteran is this…honor them! Honor them with a thankful heart willing never to forget their sacrifice!
I send my love to all of you, but today, I especially send my love to all who have friends or family members who gave their life defending our country, people, and freedom. To those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, I say thank you…I will never forget!
As a veteran turned pastor, I leave you with this…Numbers 6:24-26, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”