This weekend, we are celebrating Memorial Day as a nation and reflecting on the cost of our freedom as Americans in the U.S.A.
It was originally called, Decoration Day, in the years immediately following the Civil War, at which time it was observed primarily as a day for “decorating” military graves with flowers and commemorating the fallen Union and Confederate soldiers. By the twentieth century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who died in all wars while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
As Americans (citizens of the U.S.A.), we give thanks to the Lord this weekend for our freedom, honor to those who made sacrifices, and express our gratitude for those who still fight to defend it. As Christians (believers in Jesus’ death & resurrection alone for the forgiveness of our sin), we give our eternal praise to the LORD God for the far greater freedom that we have through Christ that is rooted in His death and resurrection.
Christians are, in a sense, dual citizens – of the Kingdom (Ephesians 2:19; Philippians 3:20) and of the nation where they live. We are ambassadors of Christ here on earth (2 Corinthians 5:20) while we live in the U.S.A. We live in a country that is not without fault, but I sing loudly with Lee Greenwood, “I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free and I won’t forget the men who died who gave right to me.” God bless the U.S.A.
My wife, DeeDee, and I hope to model for our children how to be proud of our nation – not unaware of its challenges – and be patriotic citizens. We teach them to honor our country, salute the flag with their hand over their heart, sing the National Anthem with gusto, and honor our military heroes in our family, church, and community. We pray regularly for our national, state, and local leaders. We pray for our military as well as local police and firemen who make similar sacrifices.
My grandfather, Leo D. Murray, served in Italy and then finally France during the Rhineland combat of World War II where he was critically injured with 21 major wounds, including 8 in the chest. He was Purple Heart recipient for his valor and sacrifice as a combat veteran. Miraculously, the Lord spared his life, but the injuries he sustained reminded him daily of the cost of freedom until he passed away at the age of 90 on February 10, 2010. He gave so that we could live in freedom.
My brother-in-law, Jeff Wolfe, also served our country in the military as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard. The battle lines for him were much different and much closer to home. His tour of duty in the Gulf of Mexico required conflict with drug runners. His service came with less public honor and less recognition, but the dangers encountered and sacrifices endured were the same as any soldier in combat. I remember him this Memorial Day weekend, too, as he went to be with his Savior on December 1, 2012. He gave so that we could live in freedom.
For the freedom in our country, we are extremely thankful. But for our freedom in Christ, we are eternally grateful! This weekend let’s be remember our heroes, love our country, and celebrate our freedom. And, more importantly, let’s love Jesus and worship God all the more. He gave so that we could live in freedom – forever.