What is your experience with war, directly or indirectly? Having an uncle whose life was taken in Vietnam has kept Memorial Day close my heart since childhood (find his picture at the bottom of the post). Maybe you are in a similar position, either having lost a loved one to war or knowing someone who has been affected in that way.
Over the past few years as I’ve been writing historical fiction manuscripts, Memorial Day has taken on even more meaning. Writing about World War 2 and the Vietnam War has meant lots of research, and it’s been quite eye-opening and inspiring.
I’m now embarrassed to say there was a time when I confused Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. (In case this is you right now, no judgement: Memorial Day is to honor the fallen, Veteran’s Day is to honor the living).
It’s easy to see the holiday as simply a day off while giving a nod to the military. Let’s stop taking Memorial Day at face value, and think about war for a moment.
I mean, really think about it…
- Imagine yourself in a foreign land at the mercy of your training and your instincts, the enemy potentially around every corner, a booby-trap potentially under every step you take.
- Imagine living and breathing life or death situations every day…every moment perhaps.
- Imagine watching buddies fall, knowing you can only do so much before you have to keep moving forward without stopping to grieve.
- Now imagine coming home, living with all you’ve seen and done, knowing that nobody will ever truly understand your sacrifice. Nobody except those who fought by your side.
War is tragic, no question about it. So why do so many subject themselves to such nightmarish lives?
America has fought time and again for freedom. Over the centuries we’ve watched other nations rise and fall under oppressive governments, and we know that’s simply not an option for America. We’ve aided countries trying to push back against the tide of communism as it tries to overtake them. We’ve seen it over and over. We know how the dictatorship and communism stories end, and we don’t want it for our allies or for ourselves.
Those who have lost loved ones to the fight for freedom, and the veterans among us, live in this reality in a more visceral way than most.
Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor our fallen heroes. If you have a veteran in your life, show some extra compassion on this holiday. Chances are Memorial Day brings to mind good buddies they fought beside who never got to come home to their families.
Not only is Memorial Day a day to honor the fallen, it is also a day to remember the why.
Why must war exist? Why must we have a Memorial Day to begin with?
Because, while no one of sound mind likes war itself, Americans know that fighting to keep America and her allies free is the only option. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. We refuse to let our loved ones live in a land of fear and control. We refuse to allow our freedom to worship God to be stripped away.
And so, in the process of holding onto freedom, lives are tragically lost. War is a reality that can’t be undone.
Some of us have grown up in an America that has always felt steady and free, but we need to remember that freedom is not a given. It is not a right. It is not something to grow complacent about.
Freedom is something we must acknowledge to be a hard-fought privilege, and we must collectively determine to hold onto it.
To all who have lost a loved one to battle, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Their sacrifice—your sacrifice—is not unnoticed, nor is it forgotten. You are seen. They are remembered. They will forever be honored as heroes of freedom.
A Memorial Day prayer…
Lord, hear our prayers on this Memorial Day. We thank you for each and every soldier’s life sacrificed in the name of making a better life for your people through freedom. Thank you for their bravery, determination, and ability to see a bigger picture than many of us see. Bless and encourage their families today. Thank you also for our veterans—comfort them today as they remember. Thank you for their many sacrifices as well. Bring us all into your light and help us embrace the freedom you offer us on a personal level, through Jesus. Amen.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Let me know in the comments what Memorial Day means to you, what your plans are this Monday, or any other thoughts you have! And if you haven’t already, I’d love to have you subscribe to receive future posts and updates to your inbox – you’ll receive a free 7-Day Parent’s Prayer Guide when you subscribe as a thank-you. Have a great weekend! 😊