memorial adj. \mə-ˈmȯr-ē-əl\ def. serving to preserve remembrance[i]
On a day that is set aside to remember our fallen, I suspect that many of us have forgotten the significance of the holiday, and therefore, the significance of the sacrifice. In so doing, we not only dishonor those who gave their all for our freedom, but we lose an indispensible ingredient of our character; gratitude.
One may be excused for simply being ignorant. Perhaps parents and teachers failed to share the stories of sacrifice that built this great nation.
But to show little esteem for a single life that was lost on the battlefield is morally shallow at best and corrupt at worst. A lack of gratitude is a symptom for a host of self-centered symptoms of our society.
Good memory is a trait that must be nurtured. If tested, I believe that many an honor roll student could not remember details of subjects they aced on exams years earlier. There are many who studied musical instruments or languages when they were young only to lament how much they forgot as adults.
For one to invest time, money, and effort in learning how to play a musical instrument only to neglect it for years until it is all but lost is a terrible waste. How much worse for us to devalue the lives that were sacrificed to stop an enemy determined to destroy or enslave. Yet, in some way, that is what we do when we fail to intentionally remember the debt that was paid for our freedom.
Intentional is a key word. We must be intentional about preserving the memory of the brave men and women who died fighting in our armed forces. If their memory, the memory of their heroic deeds are to be preserved it will not be done by accident.
Of course, whether or not we remember does not diminish their sacrifice. It only diminishes us.
As shameful as it would be to have a picnic among the graves of Arlington in some ways it is just as shameful to fail to sacrifice a small amount of our time in order to remember.
Of course, whether or not we remember does not diminish their sacrifice. It only diminishes us. The threats to our safety and freedom are every bit as real as they were at any time in the past. Edmund Burke who said, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it”, has already made the point.
So, forgetting their sacrifice is not just robbing our fallen of the honor they deserve, it is robbing subsequent generations as well as us the understanding of what honor, courage, and sacrifice really means.
The multitude of slain patriots have testified with their blood that there are some things worth dying for. If we lose our appreciation for what they have done we may also lose those freedoms we hold dear.
Finally, we would be amiss to fail to point out the necessity of remembering the sacrifice of the sinless Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. He “endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).
Try to wrap your mind around that! God Himself, in the Person of His Son, courageously endured the worst that evil man could pour out on Him, drank the cup of our sin and gave up His life. Scripture tells us that He did this because He loved us so much He would rather die than leave us to the judgment we deserve!
Use your imagination and try to wander the fields, beaches, jungles, seas, deserts, towns, and skies where our patriots gave their lives. Pause and give thanks.
Now, let us visit a hill just outside Jerusalem. It’s called the “place of the skull” or Golgotha. Try to imagine the suffering that took place there for us.
The only suitable response to such great love is to surrender to this great King, accepting His payment for our sin and committing to follow Him the rest of our lives.
“How the mighty have fallen.” 2 Samuel 1:25
[i] Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Internet: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/memorial accessed May 27, 2012.