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Today I had the tremendous honor of personally thanking and embracing two World War II veterans, who were called to stand for acknowledgment in front of the congregation at church, in honor of Memorial Day tomorrow. It surely was a momentous moment for our church, given how few of those from the greatest generation remain! Both these gentlemen, members of my church, are in their 90’s now. Time becomes more precious each and every day we are fortunate and blessed by their presence in our lives. And when speaking with one of the men named Joe, he mentioned how much more proud he becomes of his service in both WWII and the Korean War as time passes! I responded that my gratitude for all those who’ve served this nation has increased with age as well, given my heightened understanding of what such a sacrifice entails! It means time away from loved ones, the risk to life and limb, and it requires a heart of unselfish discipline often under unimaginable conditions!

Although Memorial Day is set aside for remembering our fallen servicemen and women, our church congregation chooses to single all veterans and active military out on each of the national holidays which honor our military. At the start of each service prior to, or on such an occasion, the minister(s) asks for those who’ve served in each conflict and war to stand to receive our grateful applause. Now some people object to confusing Memorial Day’s fallen recipients of honor with Veteran’s Day, which honors all those who’ve served – living and dead. But I believe there’s a pressing need to honor service whenever possible! In the case of those who served in WWII, time is leaving their memory behind and fewer veterans of that conflict are alive to serve as obvious reminders! I personally would rather be honoring their service and celebrating their presence among us rather than standing graveside with those same sentiments after they’ve passed! Too many of those who’ve served this great nation have gone to their deaths unaware of how very esteemed and infinitely valuable to the preservation of liberty their sacrifices were in service to our nation! What a shame it is to imagine how many men and women have sacrificed everything for the sake of securing and protecting this nation’s freedom without really knowing our full measure of gratitude! 

My heart aches for such overt love, as is mentioned in the Bible: John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.   And in this life, we are all “friends” in our common humanity. Surely those who sacrifice everything for this nation in the military service branches do so because they value their families, their loved ones, their communities, their neighbors, this nation and their freedom more than life itself! Preserving and protecting our precious freedom is reason enough for so many to choose to voluntarily enlist these days! Liberty persists because of the sacrifices of all those who serve this nation and for that, we cannot possibly express ample enough gratitude!

Memorial Day is a special day set aside to honor those who died in service to this nation and our hearts should be filled with somber gratitude and remembrances of them all. Such a history of personal sacrifice through voluntary and involuntary service to our nation throughout our history have cemented for us a continuous freedom, prosperity, and peace unrivaled by most other nations! Our nation’s history is filled with amazing heroism, valor, and personal sacrifice for the sake of preserving and protecting America for generations to come! But forgive those of us who take the opportunity to include veterans still living in our remembrances on this special patriotic day, especially those dear souls advancing in age who are within earshot of our accolades and our applause! We must take advantage of every opportunity we’re given to show them our gratitude, being thankful for their long, indelible lives as part of our nation’s most honorable contributions to the prevalence of freedom in the world! I wish you all a blessed Memorial Day! I pray for the families, loved ones, and souls of all those who perished in service to this nation, may God be with them all!