The Memorial Day holiday encourages us to remember those who have fought and sacrificed their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. I have quite a few family members who served in the military: my dad, uncles, grandfathers, and nephews. But to my knowledge, I don’t have any blood relatives who gave their lives in service to the United States of America.
Because I don’t have a direct family or personal connection to honor on Memorial Day, on Monday I’m going to read my family some words from the recently deceased Billy Graham who reflected on his time with President Dwight Eisenhower in 1955:
Some months ago when President Eisenhower was touring the battlefield at Valley Forge and was being shown from one historic spot to another, he made this statement at the conclusion of the tour: “This is where they got it for us.” What did he mean? He meant that those soldiers, and thousands of others in all the wars that America has fought, purchased by their blood the freedoms that we enjoy today in “the land of the free, and the home of the brave.” That terse statement from the lips of our president has rung in my ears for many months. These battlefields of the world today are hallowed and holy to every American, and we pause to give them our highest honors, humbly realizing the sacred trust that these, our war dead, have handed to us.
If you are searching for a thought or a word to share with your family, I invite you to share those noble words. If you have a family member or friend who contributed to our freedoms through the “purchase of their blood,” I invite you to name them and share their story with the living.
I can’t help but to remember another sort of war on Memorial Day: the war between the powers of life and death, light and darkness, good and evil, God and Satan. And how that battle was also won through the “purchase of blood” by one particularly fine young soldier. I don’t think it is out of order to remember this battle and to remember the Lord Jesus this Memorial Day.
Again, to quote Billy Graham: It seemed like a futile, hopeless struggle as Jesus Christ took on Satan’s task force single-handedly. The jeers of the rabble, the spittle of the soldiers and the sneering of the people were incidental compared to the inner struggle which was taking place in his soul. But I watch him as one hand is stretched out toward God and the other toward rebellious man, and he makes the connection and says: “It is finished.” He got through for us!
If we are to be strong spiritually, it will be through him. Thousands today are finding a fresh, new meaning of life through him. They are learning to say with confidence, “I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.” We can best keep faith with those who have gone before by keeping faith with ourselves, with our highest ideals and with God.
In addition to enjoying some summer warmth and good times with good people this holiday, I also pray that your memory is guided to gratefully recollect the lives of those who have given us life. This Sunday’s worship at Elmhurst CRC is aiming to do exactly that. Blessing to you on the way!