Honor them. Thank them. Enjoy it.
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same..." - Ronald Regan
When I was growing up, every Fourth of July, we would have a golf cart parade around our neighborhood. We'd have a day full of burgers, hot dogs, watermelon, and swimming in our backyard. Then, the night was topped off by my dad's attempt at recreating Disney World's firework show in our cul-de-sac.
We had fun.
Lots of fun.
Most of the time, our church would have a patriotic service that honored all those men who served or were serving in our armed forces. I'll never forget what it felt like to see the majority of men, including my own father, stand up in our church's sanctuary.
Some of these men served in the reserves, at that time some had most recently served in the Gulf War, others in Vietnam, and there were a handful of brave men still alive who had served in World War II. One of them even stormed Omaha Beach, received a Purple Heart, and met Queen Elizabeth in the hospital.
All in my little hometown.
This was a grim reminder that “freedom isn't free” and the great sacrifice it costs to secure.
Memorial Day is meant to specifically honor those who gave their lives in the line of service to our country.
I heard a story that veterans were walking Omaha Beach together in remembrance. Children were laughing in the water and building sandcastles in the sand. An onlooker apologized to the veteran that people would be so thoughtlessly entertained in a place where so many had lost their lives.
Supposedly, the veteran just smiled and said,
“Let the children laugh and play freely. That is why we did it.”
Our founding father, John Adams, shared this same spirit. In 1780, he wrote,
“I must study politics and war, so that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.”
True, let us never forget the great and often unimaginable sacrifice so many brave men and women have made for our country. To preserve our freedom. To give us the liberty to pursue happiness.
But let us honor them by enjoying the freedom they secured on our behalf.
Mark Twain said,
“A man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.”
If we have the privilege be free, let us make use of it and enjoy our freedom.
Eat the hot dogs, enjoy the parade, and shoot the fireworks.
Go to work, worship your God, and take the vacation.
Enjoy your family and friends.
Do the things you wouldn't be able to do if you weren't free.
Because if you don't enjoy your freedom, are you really any better off than those without it?
Honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, today and everyday.
Thank them for the gift of freedom.