We Will Remember Them

Memorial Day, 2010

Just two years ago this weekend I was in Europe. Eight guys in two cars.

We were there to visit military history sites, like Flanders Fields in Belgium (World War I) and Normandy, France, site of the enormous D-Day invasion of Europe in 1944 (World War II).

A couple days ago I got an email from a good friend, John Hunt, one of the guys who was part of our war trip. He was trying to get us together to remember our trip–and to remember them, the men and many women who gave their lives for the freedom of Europe.

John wrote, “Although I was real close to serving in Viet Nam in the early 70s, I never appreciated Memorial Day until I saw all those military cemeteries in Belgium and France. I will never forget.”

As I write this, it’s Memorial Day weekend. A time to remember. A time to give thanks for those who have given their “last full measure of devotion.”

The Declaration of Independence was signed July 4, 1776. We were colonies of the Crown. Thirteen, to be exact. And we wanted our freedom from Britain. We wanted to be our own country.

What many don’t realize is that the Declaration of Independence was more a Declaration of War with Great Britain, a war that lasted seven long years before the British forces under Lord Cornwallis finally surrendered to George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia.

So July 4th only commemorates the Declaration of Independence. We weren’t really independent, though. We only declared it! It took a revolution–and the sacrifice of thousands of lives to get it.

Our Founding Fathers fully understood this when they wrote these words at the very end of their Declaration of Independence from Great Britain: We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

It was the price of freedom, and freedom is bloody costly.

And think about this: People never die for their own freedom. Death in war is always for somebody else. The dead give up their freedom—their very lives—for the freedom of others.

At Gettysburg, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln dedicated the military cemetery with these immortal words:

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

It’s the price of freedom.

When our son Matt joined the Navy, he literally had to sign his life away. On his enlistment papers he made this commitment:

I understand that the penalty for desertion

in time of war or national crisis

is death.

Matthew Aaron Kinnaman

It’s the price of freedom.

If you have served or are serving our country in the armed forces, thank you.

O beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!

America! America!

God shed his grace on thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for heroes proved

In liberating strife.

Who more than self their country loved

And mercy more than life!

America! America!

May God thy gold refine

Till all success be nobleness

And every gain divine!

Every gain divine?

Yes, Jesus paid the price for our eternal freedom, and it was blood costly.

We read in 1 Peter 1:18-19, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

This entry was posted in Freedom and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.