On Monday, May 26, we celebrate Memorial Day, an American holiday which honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Initially known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Too many times we use this holiday to celebrate the official start of summer and forget its real meaning—to remember, honor and thank the troops who have given their lives in service to protect our nation.
Ask any of our men and women in uniform, and they’ll tell you that a life of service is not easy. By definition, service involves sacrifice and requires putting others’ needs before your own. Those in military are no longer just living for themselves; they are putting their lives at risk for the greater good, acting as protectors and defenders of all our country stands for.
Similarly, Jesus demonstrates to us that accepting a life of service is not easy. In the Bible, we see that selflessness is an integral part of service for Jesus and the apostles. They fed the poor, sheltered the homeless and accepted the outcasts, even when doing so would require them to die. In that sense, then, doesn’t a life of service equate to a life of love?
It is not difficult to see how a commitment to military service parallels Jesus’ example. Every day, military personnel are faced with danger, leaving behind their families and friends to protect our country. Just like Jesus, our troops willingly accept their role of dying for us “He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). Their willingness to give their lives in service is an example of the selfless love of Christ.
Use this Memorial Day to remember the ultimate sacrifice made by so many, both those who have died in service and those who are still serving. In the morning of Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who have given their lives in service of our country. At noon, the flag is raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. This signifies the living service personnel, who resolve that the sacrifice of those who died will not be in vain.
At its core, this life of service is truly a life of love. Thank you to all of the brave men and women who have served in the military. We truly appreciate your service. God bless all the military personnel, past, present and future, who are protecting our freedom.