“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
I am sure many of you have read or at least heard this verse at some point and have paused a moment to think about who you would give your life for should the occasion call for it. I pray none of those reading this would ever find themselves in that situation, but there are many brave men and women who have and have chosen to make the ultimate sacrifice. Memorial Day is the day we remember those who have paid the price for our freedom and liberties that we hold so dear to our hearts.
America has been at war since its founding, and that will most likely continue far into the future. Many of our ancestors were immigrants wishing to find freedom from tyranny and oppression, and America was that answer. Even still, our country fights wars and conflicts to help free the oppressed and maintain the freedom we have. The US Army Special Forces motto is “De Oppresso Liber,” which is translated from Latin as “To Free the Oppressed.” This motto sums up the American ideals when it comes to warfare, fighting for freedom, and protecting America’s interests at home or abroad. If you’ve ever been to a third world country, you might have seen such oppression. The sad state of affairs makes you appreciate coming home to America. We owe our freedom to those who have given their lives in service to this great country.
Since most of us were not around during the major World Wars or Vietnam, the most recent wars we are familiar with are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Operation Iraqi Freedom commenced in 2003 to free the people of Iraq from ruthless dictator and sociopath Sadaam Hussein. Since it began up until today, we have lost a total of 4,500 American Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, and Sailors to this war. Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan commenced in 2001 to fight the Taliban and Islamic extremist terrorists. We have lost 2,381 U.S. Military personnel from this war. These deaths are so much more than a number read in a news update. These Airmen, Marines, Soldiers, and Sailors are people with families. They are sons, daughters, wives, and husbands, and they had lives back home. These numbers represent those who will never return home to be reunited in this life with their families.
We as a country need to show our solidarity to the fatherless or motherless children and to the widowed spouses. But let’s not limit our thoughts and prayers of these men and women to one day of the year. We should pray regularly for the souls of our service members both here in the United States and those abroad serving at many of the different combat zones throughout the world. It’s because of their sacrifice that we are able to worship God freely without persecution, openly pray, and share the Gospel to our neighbors here in the U.S.
Here are three ways you and your family can recognize and honor those who have given everything in service to this great nation.
Most cities have a small memorial dedicated to those from the area who died in service of our great nation. Going here can be a great reminder of the number of people from your town, city, or state who have given their lives. This can be an eye-opening experience as many families in your area may be suffering from a loss of a family member that you did not realize. Pray for the families left behind. Pray for those declared Missing in Action. If you have children, this could also be a good opportunity for them to see the world to scale by the cost of lives some of these conflicts have inflicted upon families in your local area.
Whether it’s your kids, nieces or nephews, or your neighbor’s children, explain to the next generation how we have to protect our freedom even today. By discussing people you know who have been deployed, and by going to a memorial, you can learn a lot about your area and the demographic of those who have died in support of the United States. This will put things into perspective for kids and help them to not take their freedom for granted.
There are many people, who could be sitting next to you in church, who are suffering from depression and anxiety about how to move on, how to process the thought that their loved one is never coming home again. There are many families who could use friends, prayers, or even just someone to listen to them and help them through the struggle in their lives.These three simple actions are gestures of gratitude that honor those who have gone before us and pave the way for our future.
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