Remembering Sacrifice and Love on Memorial Day 

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, a holiday to honor and mourn those who who laid down their lives while serving in the military. It is also a time to pause to reflect on the freedom we enjoy in America. For most, it is the unofficial beginning of summer with picnics, barbeques, and graduation parties. Some go to the beach or lake house for the long weekend. For others, it is a day of sadness with visits to cemeteries and memorials to loved ones and friends. This morning, I paused at local Veterans Memorial Park to honor those who died during battle. I also remember my father, who passed away last year. Dad was a proud U.S. Marine, who rests in peace, along side many other veterans at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, IL. 

This year, celebrating the holiday is a bit more difficult given the senseless wars, oppression, and atrocities being carried out in other parts of the world. Although the United States is far from perfect, we enjoy a freedom unlike most countries. Our Constitution guarantees a freedom of expression, freedom for religion, and freedom to assemble. It gives us the right to petition and bear arms. It liberated us from slavery, restraint and power from another through costly wars and segregation, education and acceptance. Freedom is the foundation for what makes America a great country.

Sadly though, too many Americans take this freedom for granted. Some disrespect our flag and principles to justify the defamation of character and discrimination of our people. Some promote acts of immorality, foul language, violence, and abuse. Many have lost their ability to “agree to disagree” over political, ideological, or religious differences. Others focus too much on protecting our individual rights rather than working for the collective good of our country. As a result, many are no longer “proud to be American” (as Lee Greenwood sings in his patriotic sign, God Bless The USA). Hopefully, that will change in the near future. 

A Bible passage often used on Memorial Day is John 15;13: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (New International Version). The passage is part of Jesus’s long speech to His disciples at the Last Supper. Jesus considered the twelve to be His closest friends so He was preparing them for His impending arrest and death and their battle ahead.

But the twelve disciples did understand that Jesus was teaching them about selfless love and sacrifice. He said their love should be so strong that they would be willing to die for one another. Jesus said they were to serve each other and put aside their egos, opinions and desires. He commanded them to “Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Jesus said “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39) and “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44) just He would lay down His life for those who disobeyed and persecuted Him. 

Like the disciples, we often don’t remember what love and sacrifice means. We have lost the understanding that there is freedom that comes from Jesus’ death and resurrection on the Cross. It’s a love that gives us ultimate freedom.

So as we honor those who died fighting for our freedom, always remember their bravery and sacrifice with gratitude. But also learn to lay down your own life to love and serve others; not just on this Memorial Day, but every day. 

Wisdom for Men is based on my opinions on topics that help men become better men. The sources used for these posts are not fact-checked, but support my theory that men are better with deeper, more authentic friendships. My GodBuddy theory is based on biblical principles but applies to all men, regardless of their beliefs. Better friendships among men will help solve the crisis of male friendships and many of today’s problems… because the world needs better men!

[Source: My photo of Gold Star Families Memorial in Veterans Park, Naperville, IL]


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