I grew up patriotically in a home that knew nothing of God or His Word. I teared up when singing the National Anthem. I cheered for our fighting men in John Wayne movies. I put my hand over my heart to say the pledge, to sing the National Anthem, and standing, to honor the flag as it passed by in a parade.
My generation grew up aware of patriotism and honoring our country and its ideals along with those who sacrificed to preserve it. Maybe the two World Wars and the Korean War touched so many of our families in such a personal way that it was more natural to be aware of the debt that was owed.
As a mom, I’ve tried to instill in my sons a sense of honor for our country and especially for those who sacrificed to preserve it – whether by giving their lives or by the long hard sacrifice of physical and mental infirmity from the effects of war. Like me, they stood to sing the Anthem, with hands over hearts, hats removed. Like me, they said the pledge and cheered our guys on in war movies. Except the war movies changed drastically after the Viet Nam War – everything became much more cynical, much less idealized. Some of that was good. But the combination of the effects of that war with our nation moving further and further away from a Judeo-Christian culture has dulled our patriotism and left “our guys” (and gals!) vastly un-honored. Not dishonored, necessarily, but un-honored. The honor due has been neglected. Their sacrifices lost in the over-abundance of media information about so many tragedies and struggles in so many places and among so many people. It’s overwhelming.
I’m glad we still take time to stop and notice. To honor. To reflect. As with many, I have to be reminded to do so. To make this weekend not just about a barbecue and a day off.
But it’s so important to understand why we are able to understand the value of sacrifice, of giving one’s life for the sake of others. Because we have a God who made us in His image, His other-loving nature makes our hearts leap when we see it reflected in our fellow human beings. We recognize the supreme value in giving our lives for others because our Savior, the Son of God, gave His life for us. Not to preserve something valuable – but to pay the ultimate price of mercy for us who were hopelessly lost in our sin so that He could complete the ultimate justice, which is also His nature. The ultimate justice that the price would be paid, the penalty would be served out for our sin by the Son of God who was without sin.
So, this weekend I am grateful for the service of those who have sacrificed their lives – through death or through the everyday very costly sacrifices of military life – to preserve our nation, our freedom. But I am ultimately grateful to our High and Good and Just and Merciful God who taught us to prize sacrifice!
Happy Memorial Day.