Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)
Today is Memorial Day, a federal holiday in the United States, a day set apart for honoring and mourning the military personnel who died while serving in our Armed Forces. To be sure, as we are in the midst of this global pandemic and under gradually easing stay-at-home orders, Memorial Day 2020 will not look like any in our past. There will be no grand parades with throngs of people lining the streets or packed 5K runs to honor of the fallen. The traditional picnics and barbeques at parks and beaches will be confined to individual families at home. Even the public ceremonies of placing of flags at military gravesites will be done in a restrictive manner in order to comply with social distancing restrictions. This is indeed an unprecedented time for our generation!
Memorial Day weekend is also the official start to the summer. However, most beaches are still closed, as are many travel destinations. So with limited travel and few events to engage in, perhaps you and I can use this a time for deeper reflection on and thanksgiving for all the freedoms we do have in America, freedoms which have been secured by the sacrificial service of the brave men and women who protect our great nation.
Social distancing orders have not been easy on any of us, simply because we are social creatures. Remember, in all that God declared to be “good” in the creation narrative, the one thing He said was not good is for us to be alone. We were made for community, plain and simple. To be sure, we are saved individually, but we are saved to community, and only in community will we fully grow and mature in our faith.
This Memorial Day being so unusual because of this unprecedented time of social distancing should bring home to us a powerful reminder of the sacrifice our military personnel actually enlisted for. You and I are frustrated because we cannot be with our friends and family for fear of the virus; for the men and women of our Armed Services, being separated from friends and family is a daily fact of life.
First, our brave men and women gave up their comfortable lives at home, often travelling to the far side of the world to serve for months at a time. Second, they signed up to live in environments of dangerous isolation to defend our country. And finally, on this day, we remember that many of those men and women made the ultimate sacrifice to keep us free by laying down their lives for us. As Jesus said, there is no greater love.
So when it comes to remembering our brave men and women who fought and died protecting our freedoms, know this: all paid some . . . some paid all . . . and they were all willing to endure extended, repeated absences from loved one to do so.
I’d like to conclude by borrowing from something former President Ronald Reagan said about the United States Marine Corps. In no way do I wish to minimize the exemplary history and service of the Marines, but I do believe that President Reagan’s words can be expanded to include all those who served in every branch:
Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in this world. Those who served to protect our freedoms don’t have that problem.
May God bless our military personnel. You are in my prayers and in my heart.
Purpose and Passion,