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.