Memorial Day 2011
100 years ago today, nothing of any real, global significance happened. At least, not that I'm aware of. However, today is the day we observe Memorial Day in the United States. It's a day that we are supposed to stop and remember something that's been said so much it's almost a cliché: Freedom is not free.
What is Memorial Day? It started as Decoration Day, a set aside time to clean up and make, pardon the expression, beautiful the graves of those who died in the Civil War. A great deal of the fighting had taken place in the South, so many of the North's dead were buried far from home, and special effort had to be made by families to keep clean the gravesites of their dead. Columbus, Mississippi, is remembered as the place where the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers were cared for by the same people.
Over time, the day came to be known as Memorial Day, a time to stop and remember those who died for our nation. This is an important thing for us to do, yet over time we've lost a lot of that focus. There is something about the sacrifice of lives for us that we seem to want to forget.
Yet we cannot risk forgetting. Whether we are talking about the martyrs that died for our faith in Christ or those who died for our freedom in America, we need to realize the invaluable gift they have preserved for us. If we have freedom, we ought to give thanks first to God for it, but then to realize the sacrifice it cost for us to continue to have it.
And we need to begin contemplating what it's going to take to preserve that freedom. There are continuing costs for freedom. The down payment was paid by patriots in centuries gone by, but the interest must be continued. What will it cost us? When we defer those payments, put off those sacrifices, the next generation has to pay double or more…
Is that what we want? Is that what the sacrifices of those before us were for? Many of our (my generation) grandparents survived the Great Depression and fought the tyranny of the Axis powers. Our parents fought the Cold War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Our friends and siblings are fighting terrorism.
Are we taking those efforts for granted? Will we pass on to our children the costs of liberty without the benefits?
Let us act. Act to preserve freedom and to extend it. Act to honor those who guard it. Act to pass on the blessing of freedom and the wisdom to defend it to our children and our children's children.