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Memorial Day: The Highest Expression of Love Is Self-Sacrifice
(This article is adapted from one originally written and published last year.)
Jesus Christ said (Jn. 15:13), “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” The greatest expression of love a person can offer to someone or something is to sacrifice his life for the object of his love. Since that is true, then Memorial Day is the holiday when we celebrate those who loved America the most.
There are many people who have professed to love America, while their actions have damaged and even directly attacked her. But those who fought and died so that liberty might survive, from Trenton to New Orleans to Vicksburg to the beaches of Normandy to Korea to Vietnam to Afghanistan up until the present day, the American soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines who gave the supreme sacrifice, testified more eloquently with their blood than any man ever could with words their love for their country and for liberty. Every tombstone of an American soldier is a silent and powerful witness to the cost that preserving liberty takes.
I have three ancestors who died while serving in the U.S. military, two Army soldiers in the Civil War and a Marine in Vietnam. I recall them with pride and gratitude. But in the cause of liberty, we are all brothers. Every casualty of war has given a sacrifice to all future Americans, both his relatives and strangers, a debt that each of us owes and that can never be fully repaid.
In celebrating Memorial Day, however, it is important that we not simply praise our honored dead. The hundreds of thousands of men and women we celebrate today were willing to die so that liberty could survive and future generations could be free. The best way that we can honor them is to carry on their legacy. In the United States today, all the institutions, including the government itself, are attacking America and trying to transform her into an authoritarian state. Will we allow that to happen, will we decide that the sacrifice of all those generations of American soldiers is in vain, or will we step up and be the new generation that is willing to risk everything, even our lives, to save liberty?
I think I cannot do better than end with the inspiring words of the great Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address, explaining how we can best honor the slain:
“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 here 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.”
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