I never served in the military. The U.S. discontinued the draft the year I turned 16 in 1973 and has had an all-volunteer military force since then. I remember my mom crying with joy at the news since she knew that I would at least have the option of whether to serve or not, unlike my Dad and other men in my family’s past who served willingly, but also in obedience to the law. Like many my age at the time, I went on to college and other things and did not serve my government in that manner.
This Memorial Day weekend, as we celebrate the lives of those given so that we might remain free, I again experience a deeper and deeper respect for the sacrifice they made for the rest of us. I regularly regret that I did not serve my country in the military because I feel somewhat like a freeloader living off the sacrifice and hard work of others. I can’t change the past and I can’t serve at age 55, but I can at least show respect and gratitude for what others have done and for those men and women serving today.
So to my father and the men of my family in previous generations who bravely served, to the countless heroes who knowingly and willingly put their lives on the line for a cause greater than themselves, to men and women who never came home to hold and love their family members again, and to the far too many serving overseas today in harm’s way, please accept my tear-filled, inadequate “thank you” for your service. The world is not worthy of those who give such a sacrifice. May you and your accomplishments never be forgotten.
John 15:13 says “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (ESV). How great is the love for someone to lay down his/her life for millions of others he/she never knew?
Tomorrow is not the unofficial start of summer. It is not the day pools open. It is Memorial Day. Remember why.
May we never forget leap year lesson #139 – Freedom is not free.