As I reflect on Memorial Day each year, I am reminded of the evocative words of the poem crafted by Sen. Orrin Hatch, Lowell Alexander and Phil Naish:
"Blades of grass and pure white stones
Shelter those who've come and gone.
Just below the emerald sod
Are boys who reached the arms of God.
"Buried here with dignity
Endless rows for all to see,
Freedom's seeds in sorrow sown,
'Neath blades of grass and pure white stones.
Blades of grass and pure white stones
Cover those who left their homes
To rest in fields here, side by side,
Lest we forget their sacrifice."
You can just close your eyes and picture those un-ending rows of white stones at Arlington National Cemetery or the white crosses at Flanders Field in Belgium.
We think of the millions of young men who answered that call to serve over the years, never to return to their earthly homes.
We must never forget that sacrifice, nor their willingness to lay down their lives for their fellow men. We are told in Scripture that this signifies the greatest of loves – a selfless love for all of humanity.
It is hard to imagine a love so grand, but just by envisioning those gardens of stone, we can understand in a small way the size and scale of their commitment.
I am thankful every day that we live in a nation that chooses to honor those who gave their lives for our freedoms, and I pray we never forget.
I also think it is fitting on Memorial Day to remember the millions of others who have responded to another call to serve, given by God Himself in Isaiah 6:8:
"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!'" (NIV)
Beginning with Stephen in the Book of Acts, there have been countless individuals throughout history who also made that ultimate sacrifice so that the rest of humanity could know the freedom from sin available through Christ.
From most of Jesus’ disciples, to William Tyndale and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, to Jim Elliot and his fellow missionaries Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Pete Flemming and Roger Youderian – each of these was willing to give up his life so that others might come to know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There are many others serving in countries around the world today whose lives would be forfeit were their true identities and purposes revealed.
I honor them on this day, as well, for standing up and saying, "Yes, I will go." Truly, there is "no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." (John 15:13, NRSV)
Will you join me in remembering our soldiers’ sacrifices today – both our U.S. military and the "soldiers of the Cross?"
know it was for this reason that our very first generation of U.S. soldiers armed themselves against the British, so that others might one day be able to worship freely the God they served – whether or not that be Jesus Christ.
And that is why our military men and women of today are willing to engage in conflict around the globe – to bring such liberties where people are killed for their choice of faith. They all will fight to the death to support anyone’s right to worship as he or she sees fit, even if they personally disagree with that belief. This is what makes our country and its freedoms so great and so worth defending.
The soldiers who lay down their lives every day are saying this to us: I may disagree with you religiously, politically and in many other ways, but I will defend your right to disagree with me until my very last breath.
Wouldn’t you agree we could use a little more of that kind of selflessness in our nation these days?
That is what I acknowledge on Memorial Day and what I pray our country continues to hold dear.
Lt. Col. West is a combat veteran whose father was a combat veteran and is buried alongside his mother at Marietta National Cemetery. He is president and CEO of The Hope Center, a 501(c)(3) collaborative hub of Christian ministries making a global impact for God’s Kingdom. It serves as a center point for Christian activity and ministry here in North Texas, providing professional resources, ideas, mentoring and training to empower ministries to magnify their reach. For more of Allen West's reports, Go Here Now.
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