[Jesus told His disciples] “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:13

The praise of the Lord is effusive for those who purposefully give up their life to save another! Memorial Day is a celebration of poignant gravity to remember and express gratitude for those who gave the last full measure of devotion, that the day might be treated appropriately.

The memory of those who died for your freedom adorn this celebration. There are numerous significant battles in these great wars where those who sacrificed their own lives died in massive numbers. Additionally, there are those occurrences where one died quite alone and separate from his fellows. They equally paid the price.

If the particular war had not been fought, the result would have been a triumph of evil and continued oppression of people who yearn to live freely. Countries like Germany and Japan perpetrated a terrible enslavement of others who prayed for freedom, the true gift of God. They willfully and arrogantly inflicted this terrible blight of life on their fellow creatures.

D-Day is one great, historical battle, among many, initiating the beginning of the end of a vicious enemy of freedom-loving peoples. Lust for power and racial hatred raised its ugly head before God raised up an instrument of justice to crush such purveyors of misery – and what utter misery it was! Thousands upon thousands sacrificed their lives on the beaches and in the hedgerows of Normandy, dislodging the enemy from what were once thought to be invincible defenses.

Even in the midst of such calamity of their destroyed cities and homes, with many family members killed or wounded, this liberated people shouted with boisterous acclaim to the foreign victors who utterly vanquished these oppressors. Nazi flags were ripped down, enemy prisoners marched into prison camps, weapons confiscated and destroyed. Concentration camps were overrun, though the horror they discovered was bone-chilling.

The once arrogant and powerful were defanged and humiliated. Eventually their leaders who had not already taken their own lives were executed. They came to the ignominious end they well deserved, though eternal judgment yet awaits them.

It was a war which involved an entire world; no one was left untouched. Many lives were manifestly devastated. This was a pandemic of violence and total upheaval.

These Memorial Days were once buttressed by fresh memories. Now those memories have faded, especially with the deaths of her veterans. A new generation of youth has shockingly asked not to be disturbed or made uncomfortable by any instruction about such wars. Its history fades according to the ignorance and neglect.

What is lost, however, is honoring the sacrifice the Lord expressed as “no greater love” directed toward you. Is this your thought on Memorial Days?

My wife and I have walked between the rows of thousands of crosses in the American Cemetery overlooking Utah Beach in Normandy. My mind and heart quietly thought of the thousands whose lives were snuffed out hardly before they started, all for the great cause of freedom – your freedom and mine.

Amidst the picnics and fireworks and joy of family, think on our Lord’s words spoken about this great sacrifice. This joy of celebration is due to the lifeblood of one and many seeping into the sands of Utah Beach, the lanes of Bastogne, and the hills of Okinawa. It is similarly found in the loving care of a nurse tending to the dying agonies of one gasping for breath due to the virus. Greater love has no one than this…

“I’ve found a Friend, O such a Friend! He bled, He died to save me, and not alone the gift of life, but His own self He gave me! Naught that I have mine own I’ll call, I’ll hold it for the Giver. My heart, my strength, my life, my all are His and His forever.”

(Second verse of James Small’s hymn, “I’ve Found a Friend, O Such a Friend,” 1866)

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