Selfless sacrifices that put the fate of others above themselves are always to be honored. On Memorial Day, we take time to do just that. Won’t you join me as we reflect on some of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Welcome to “Mornings with Bishop Robert.”
Today is Memorial Day in the United States of America. We, like many other nations around the world, have a special day set aside to honor those men and women who have lost their lives in the defense of our nation. It is right and fitting that we do so, and this morning I want to speak with you about sacrifices willingly given to set people free.
The temptation here is to begin to list stories of incredible valor and sacrifice, to share the details of the battles and heroic actions. Here’s the problem I wrestle with. The United States has had more than 1.3 million soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines make the ultimate sacrifice for their nation. I don’t want to remember some, I want to give honor to all. Because it makes no difference whether someone lost their life in a battle in Europe or in the Pacific, on Bunker Hill in Massachusetts or in Belleau Wood in France. The price is the same. The pain is the same. And we must remember their sacrifice, all of them, with the same honor.
In Great Britain, Remembrance Sunday is observed with a 2-minute silence on the Sunday nearest to Nov 11, the day World War I ended. South Korea’s Memorial Day on June 6 is marked by a one minute moment of silence. The most striking and somber remembrance I’ve seen occurs on Yom Hazikaron, Remembrance Day in Israel. At precisely 11am, as air raid sirens go off all over the nation, Israel stops and stands and remembers. For two minutes as sirens blare, people stand beside their cars on highways and on formerly busy streets in cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. They stand and share their collective and personal anguish mingled with honor for the fallen.
Today’s verse says THERE IS NO GREATER LOVE THAN TO LAY DOWN ONE’S LIFE FOR ONE’S FRIENDS.
Such great sacrifice demands great honor. The costliest battle Americans have ever fought was the final offensive of World War I, the month-long Battle of the Argonne Forest in France. Fierce beyond normal comprehension, U.S. forces expended more ammunition in the first three hours of fighting than what was used by both sides during the entire American Civil War. The families of 26,277 soldiers had to be notified that their sons had paid the ultimate price for freedom. And, yes, it was sons; because at that time no nation sent its women to fight its battles.
Numbers alone do not tell the story. Each life, each sacrifice does. As we remember each and every person who laid down their life, let us not forget one other – the man who spoke the words of our verse today.
He, too, chose to give His life to purchase our freedom, to set us free from an eternity worse than any worldly enemy ever contemplated. As we remember the brave men and women who laid their lives upon the altar of freedom – and we MUST remember – let us not forget the only one who knew for certain that the battle He was entering would absolutely require His life.
We MUST Remember.
A sacrifice so great demands remembrance and honor.
All gave some, but some gave all. Today we recall those who gave all.