My earliest memory of celebrating Memorial Day is attending a parade at seven years old, waving my flag and cheering wildly when my favorite fire truck honked at me. I understood that freedom was not free, I promise you that. The depth of that truth and the full meaning of the holiday, however, did not cross my mind.
That’s how it’s supposed to be when you’re seven years old. Reverent and honoring, yes, but happy in the knowledge that you’re free without a care in the world. That’s exactly the way it should be.
We are, after all, remembering the soldiers who gave their lives so that seven-year-olds could be carefree and happy. It’s how they would’ve wanted it.
But we can’t stay seven years old forever. There comes a time in every area of life when something clicks and we understand more than we ever did before.
Maybe at seven years old we didn’t deeply care about Memorial Day. But we are no longer seven years old. And more Americans than I’d like to admit still don’t care about Memorial Day.
Why should we care? What is so important about a day to remember soldiers who have died? And how does that pertain to doing hard things?
1. They gave everything…the least we can do is remember
“All gave some but some gave all” has become such a common phrase, we can say it without that reality sinking in. Every soldier has given something. Ever heard someone say that in war there are no unwounded soldiers? That’s absolutely true.
Some of those soldiers left behind everything they loved, their lives, their dreams, to die in an explosion of fire or a rain of steel in countries we’d be hard-pressed to find on a map.
Shouldn’t we act like that means something to us?
May I remind you that Jesus Christ did the same thing…only infinitely greater? He was not a fellow American. He was God. He didn’t die for a country that loved Him. He died for sinners. For people who hated Him.
Can’t we at least offer a little in return for such love—both our soldiers’ and our Lord’s?
2. Freedom isn’t free
Let that sink in for a minute.
Freedom isn’t free.
The saying “The best things in life are free” will forever bother me. In a way, it is true. The best things in life came free for us. We didn’t have to bleed on a battlefield. And we will never have to hang in shame on an old rugged cross. Freedom, physical and spiritual, didn’t cost us anything.
But it cost someone everything.
The best things in life are not free. The best things in life are anything but free.The best things in life are not free. The best things in life are anything but free. Click To Tweet
Yet we continue to live as if the best things in life are simply free. That mindset can so easily slip into an easy-come-easy-go attitude. It didn’t cost me anything. I’m not invested in it. Why would it make a difference to me?
I’m not invested in it.
But we should be, even if it was free for us. Wouldn’t you value your freedom infinitely more if it was your soldier who came home draped in a flag? Wouldn’t you value your salvation infinitely more if you had seen the Lord of glory dying naked among thieves and mockers?
Can’t the knowledge that such sacrifice really happened make you value it at least a little more?
Can’t the depth of such love give you some appreciation for your free gift?
3. We should strive to be worthy of their sacrifice
One of the most convicting poems I’ve read is Eleanor Roosevelt’s “Wartime Prayer”:
Dear Lord, Lest I continue my complacent way, help me to remember that somehow, somewhere out there a man died for me today. As long as there be war I then must ask and answer, am I worth dying for?
Christ died for everyone who rejects him, everyone who turns their back on him, everyone who sins, everyone who tries but still questions him in moments of weakness. He didn’t ask if we were worthy.
Our soldiers died so that those who couldn’t care less or outright disagree or worse, have the freedom to say whatever dreadful things they want about our troops. They died for the freedom to disrespect that very freedom. They don’t ask if the Americans back home will respect their sacrifice or stand for the flag.
But we have every reason to ask it of ourselves.
Have we grown complacent? Do we live a life worthy of ultimate sacrifice? Do we strive to be worthy even if we can never live up to such love?This Memorial Day, I challenge you to remember. Remember our Savior’s sacrifice, and remember our soldiers’. Live like you remember. Live like you care. Click To Tweet
Wouldn’t giving your life be one of the hardest things anyone could do? Doesn’t that encourage you to tackle your own hard things?
We haven’t resisted to the point of blood (Hebrews 12:4 paraphrased). But we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who have (Hebrews 12:1).
This Memorial Day, amidst the excitement of parades and the pool opening, I challenge you to remember. Remember our Savior’s sacrifice, and remember our soldiers’.
Live like you remember. Live like you care.
In the words of Billy Ray Cyrus, in his song, Some Gave All, “If you ever think of me, think of all your liberties and recall, some gave all.”
Previously published May 27, 2019
Author’s Note: A lot can change in two years. It’s surreal for me to reread this and realize how much I still believe every word of it, while still feeling like this was written by a little kid version of me. I’ve since made the decision to go into the military myself and the things I’ve learned and ways I’ve grown make me feel like I should try to convey these words even more powerfully. But I’m not going to. Because like I said, I still believe every word. -Kassie Angle