This iconic image from World War II has come to represent the tenacity and loyalty of America and her comrades-in-arms. But it is also a representation of sacrifice.
Today, as we reflect on the victories that have made America the world power she is today, we must also remember the millions of lives sacrificed in the process. This is what Memorial Day is all about: remembering those fallen in combat.
It’s not about a barbeque, a three-day weekend, a holiday to usher in summer festivities, or an opportunity to party and watch parades. It’s a somber day of remembrance. An opportunity to acknowledge, honor, and thank those who have given their lives to preserve and protect the freedoms we enjoy. It’s a time to ponder the sacrifice they’ve made and the responsibility we have to perpetuate the freedoms they died for.
Sadly, many Americans don’t fully realize the sobriety of Memorial Day nor do they take the time to truly ponder the staggering number of lives sacrificed in the pursuit of freedom. To many, Memorial Day is just another holiday, two words on the calendar at the end of May. Some may go to a special ceremony and walk their children down to place flowers on the grave of the Unknown Soldier, but the act of actually remembering the fallen has lost its significance. It has become routine, traditional. But Memorial Day is much more than that.
One of the most moving moments of my life was spent standing before a traveling mini-replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and watching as men and women alike fell to their knees with open sobbing as they found the name of a loved one. Though that conflict concluded over 40 years ago and the upcoming generations may only know it as a historical event, there are still mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives, daughters, sons, friends, and fellow comrades who grieve the loss of the fallen.
I was humbled and sobered as I watched this scene unfold before me and took the time to ponder and realize that each name etched into the wall was a life. A life created by God, nurtured by loving parents, and filled with the potential of greatness, yet cut much too short. In the sea of thousands of names recorded on the Vietnam Memorial alone, it was easy to forget the significance and sacrifice represented in a single, unfamiliar name. It was easy to overlook the fact that each name represented a life that was ended, a family that was impacted, and an ultimate price that was paid.
But we must not forget
Though we don’t personally know or even recognize a fraction of the names recorded on national memorials, we can’t forget that each person willingly gave their life for us. For you. For me.
The aftermath and casualties of war are ugly, painful, and disturbing, so we tend to avoid these topics and sugarcoat the reality. We allow ourselves to grow callous to the numbers, figures, and statistics so that we can avoid the pain and sorrow such realities conjure up. Sometimes we find it easier to gloss over the exorbitant price of freedom so that our conscience isn’t pricked by how quickly we are giving it away.
But we must not grow callous
Freedom was and is not free. It came at a price. It’s easy to take for granted and forget the blood that was shed and the lives lost to ensure our freedom. But we must not grow callous by numbers, figures, or statistics. We must remember the individual. The son, husband, or father who gave everything to ensure our freedom. The daughter, wife, or mother who gave her life in faithful service to her country. The husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, and children who were left behind and forever impacted.
They all had names. They all had faces. They all lived lives that were full of potential. They were all people. People who gave everything for us.
So let us remember
Let us reflect and ponder with soberness of mind and heart the cost of freedom. And let us be grateful for and never forget the ones who paid that price in full.
The High Price of Freedom
A Tribute to the Unknown Soldier and All Fallen Veterans of War
by Kristin Renfer
Your life was cut short,
Your destiny made clear,
As you lie there alone
In a land far from home.
You thought war was glamorous
Or maybe you knew
That not all would go home
But never guessed that would include you.
You believed in your country
Though the cause may have been off,
And fought with courage and valor
For the freedom you sought.
Now as you lie on the hard ground
In a desolate, lonely plain,
You can’t help but wonder
If all had been in vain.
But as you take your last breath
You remember with a jolt
That this was what freedom required
To remain free from tyranny, terror, or tyrant.
So you lie there in peace
Amidst the terrors of war,
Praying that freedom reigns victorious
And that some may go home.
Now many years later,
We stand by your side
To say “Thank You”
For we are unworthy of your great sacrifice.
Though we don’t know your name
Or what town you hailed from,
We do know this truth:
We owe all to you and the slain.
Your life may have been ordinary
You might not have been great,
But in our eyes you’ll always be
A hero whose legacy lives beyond the grave.
Without you we would have not
The freedom we enjoy,
So again we say “Thank You”
For the price you paid fully with a life cut too short.
We will remember you always,
Though a stranger you may be
And we vow to protect
The freedom purchased for us by thee.
So rest in peace, faithful soldier,
Know that all was not in vain.
May our posterity become like you,
And may freedom forever reign.
And from this day forward
May we never forget,
The high price of our freedom
Or those who fully paid for it.
Receive Posts via Email
Today is a day of remembrance and reflection for our country. A time to remember lives lost, sacrifices made, and a war begun. Read more
Guest Post ~ When Stories Collide
Stories are strange things. Because it isn't the big, important people who are usually the main characters; it's not the sunny, lovely days that move the story along. It's the little people who become the heroes. It's the disasters that cause the quest. Read more
The Unrecognized "Royal" Couple
Our world is obsessed with individuals and couples of fame and fortune, super stars and royals; however, there was one royal couple that the world completely missed. Read more