Memorial Day weekend means many things to people here in the States. For some, it is the ‘first weekend of Summer.’ Others look at it merely as a chance to get away from work and maybe outside for the first time in months (other than for shoveling snow). Thankfully, a great many will take the time to remember those who have fallen protecting the freedom we live in. Parades and memorial services will be held throughout the land, helping people to remember that this freedom does not come without a great cost.
Personally, I came to this greater appreciation after the attacks of September 11th, 2001. Prior to that, I took for granted all that comes with living in America. As an under grad I majored in history, with a concentration in the 20th century. I learned many of the important dates and the activities of historical figures from that era, but I never felt personally the sacrifices that were made that gave me the basic freedoms I enjoyed every day.
The attacks of 9-11 awakened in me a passion for our country I had never felt before. It was seeing the graphic destruction in my homeland and the suffering of so many innocents that prodded me from the national lethargy I was living in. Though I do not always agree with, condone or understand what the political machine is doing here, the love I feel for my country and what it stands for is unwavering.
From that point onward, I have made it a point to thank each member of the military I meet, wherever that may be. I extend this greeting to law enforcement as well. It may be a handshake and ‘thank you for serving our country’ or simply a nod of the head to a passing patrol car, but it is one way I attempt to let these brave men and women know I appreciate their efforts and by extension, all those who have gone before them. In this way I carry Memorial Day in my heart every day.
There are similarities in my coming to faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior. As a spoiled and carefree youth, God and the things of eternity could not have been farther from my mind. From my late teenage years to the age of 31, the hell that is alcoholism kept me selfishly focused only on me and my perceived needs. This Jesus, if he existed, certainly didn’t have any desire to be associated with a drunk like me (when I finally read the Gospels, I saw how wrong I had been!).
It was in the earliest stages of recovery that I realized that not only did He exist, but He also was giving me the opportunity to be free from the bondage I was under. Since then and over these past 27 years, I have been blessed to know the eternal relationship has been restored with my Heavenly Father because of the atoning death Jesus died for the forgiveness of sins. His resurrection to life gives me the assurance of security regarding my forever life with Him.
Much as I make it a point to let those serving our country know I appreciate their efforts, I also attempt to acknowledge what Jesus has done for me (and everyone) in all I do. I have found the best way to do this is to follow the example of the Lord; listening to people’s concerns and extending my hand to help.
I was taught long ago that gratitude is an action word. If it is so, then my simply giving lip-service about what Jesus has done doesn’t truly show my thankfulness for His sacrifice. Every person I meet and interact with offers me the opportunity to in some way express the love that God has for them. In so doing, I am remembering daily the significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In closing, allow me to again say thank you this Memorial Day for all those who paid the ultimate price while preserving my freedom. May your legacy never be forgotten or diminished.
And every day, may we remember that the Son of God not only died for the forgiveness of sins, but that He is alive still today! His message of hope continues to go out. May we who know His love remember always to express it back to Him as we model it to the world around us.