Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day thoughts

Having grown up the son of a military veteran, I was taught to be grateful for the country I live in and the sacrifice of so many. The efforts of thousands has allowed us to be free from the ravages of violent war and aggression on home soil that we see the world over. After my father’s death last week, I looked through an album of his old army pictures and was moved to think about the thousands of soldiers who have sacrificed for my freedom.

War is an ugly, horrible, hellish reality in this sin-torn world. Humanity has almost never enjoyed a period without war somewhere on earth. You cannot turn on a news program or website without seeing multiple wars and uprisings happening the world over. War means people- who are made in the image of God -dying. It’s an awful aberration, but necessary at times, this side of the Fall.

The last of the three chief war criminals of the Bosnian War was arrested this week. With the arrest of Ratko Mladic, it is hoped some closure can come for a group of nations that experienced a savage war that spanned 3 long years after the break up of Yugoslavia in 1991. I was in college during that awful conflict and knew several students from that war torn region of Europe. Of course, the Bosnian War came right after our own country fought in the Gulf War leading in to 1991. Since that time, we are all familiar with numerous conflicts involving our armed service men and women, at this very moment close to 200,000 American troops are on foreign soil somewhere defending out country.

At my father’s burial last week, the funeral director, himself a veteran, carefully removed the triangle folded flag from my father’s casket and turned to my mother. As he handed the flag to mom, he said- “On behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation, this flag is presented as a token of our appreciation for the honorable and faithful service rendered by your husband to his country.” My father served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. I appreciate how members of our military carry a certain honor for the whole of their life, even in death.

It has been said by many that wars are started by old men in suits but fought by young boys with guns. It’s true. Much of the politics surrounding decisions to go to war are maddening. Obviously we live in a time of great division and argument concerning our own country’s involvement in various conflicts. Nevertheless, on this Memorial Day weekend I will be thinking of the families- especially those in our church- who currently have loved one’s serving our military. I will also be thinking of the many who have been affected by family and friends who have served in such a capacity at one time or another. There’s a whole lot wrong with our country and it’s direction, that’s for sure, however there are still many things to be thankful for and appreciate. In my opinion, our military deserves a place of honor and consideration in our minds, hearts, and prayers.

Pray especially for the faithful bible-teaching, gospel-preaching, chaplains and soldiers who are being used of God to bring people to Christ. Pray for the many military families who must stay here and care for families while mom or dad are away. Whatever you do, when you get a day off on Memorial Day, think of the price paid (and still being paid) by so many who have served and sacrificed.


Woody Woodward said...

Tony, reading what the veteran funeral director spoke forth to Ginger brought a big lump in my throat. I saw him lean down and gently pass Ole’ Glory on to her, but couldn’t hear what was said. Cheri and I too have a new reason to really celebrate this coming Memorial Day. When we were with Tate and his family over Easter, he shared with us that he decided, with his wife’s agreement, to heed the call and do his patriotic duty. So he has joined the Army’s elite field of medical doctors, and he will be serving our troops where ever he is needed. Wow, this was huge news for us! But such a statement made us so proud we almost wanted to shout.
I know Tony Sr had some moving stories of his bravery in and on the battlefield. I would hope that in some of your upcoming sermons you might be able to tie some of these stories, helping us all remember that freedom in Christ, wasn’t free, and our freedom today isn’t free.
God bless our brave men and women, proudly serving and protecting all of us.

Shawn said...

This weekend I will have the honor of remembering my father at the Leavenworth National Cemetery. He too was a Korean war veteran, but was blessed to be a U.S. Navy man. So, he spent his war years on a tossing deck, and not the treacherous land of Korea.

My brother and my brother-in-law are veterans. Sadly God kept me from serving this great country too with heart problems. But I will be thanking them both for their dedication and sacrifice to this country.

I give praise to all the men and women who serve our country. May God bless and keep them.

Anonymous said...

My grandfather served in the army during World War I, my Dad served in the army during World War II, and I have two uncles who served in the military during the Koren war, then Larry served in the Navy during the Viet Nam war.
Memorial day has always been an extra special day for my family(Dad's family). We always have a family reunion the saturday before Memorial Day and then on Memorial Day we go to several cemeteries and decorate graves. It's always a great day of celebration and reflection.
This year Larry and I was not able to join my Dad's family reunion, so we decided to go to the World War I museum. We didn't know much about WWI, and my grandfather didn't talk much about it. Now I understand why. It was a living hell, the conditions the men had to live in and then they were not really prepared to fight the enemy.
I thank God for all men and women who serve our country in the military, past and present, who sacrifice their lives, and gave/give up time from their families to protect and defend our freedoms.
If you haven't visited the WWI museum, go and take your family, see everything, eat at the "Over there cafe", and of course go to the observation deck of the tower. What a view. God's blessings to all,