Monday, May 27, will be observed across our nation as Memorial Day. For many it will simply be a day off of work. For others it will be nothing more than a day of ball games, picnics and time at the beach.
We must realize that Memorial Day is significant in the life and history of this great nation. Established following the Civil War, the day was formerly known as Decoration Day, a time to decorate the graves of the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. Later, in the 20th century, Memorial Day was extended to honor all Americans who have died while in military service to their country.
At this present time, our nation is in turmoil. There are many different issues that have people standing on both sides of the fence. But, while we face such division, we must never forget the freedoms that we enjoy.
In 1979, I was privileged to preach in the country of Yugoslavia. Tito was still in power and kept a very tight rein on his people. I remember that the streets of the village of Pivnice were lined with cherry trees bearing ripe fruit. The government declared that you could stand under a tree and eat all the cherries that you wanted. You could also take a small handful of fruit on your journey to the next tree. However, you could not climb the tree and pick cherries; nor could you place them in a bag and take them home to make a pie. Thus, oppression and dictatorship caused much fruit to be wasted without justification.
In this great nation we have many freedoms. We have the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, freedom to travel without restriction, and the freedom of religion that we might worship our God in whatever way we deem fit. These freedoms are precious, and each one (plus, so many others) have been made possible through the years by the American soldier.
Approximately, 1,209,000 men and women have died in an act of war since our nation was founded. The very reason for its birth under persecution and oppression was that we might be forever free.
Though Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veteran's Day, remember those who went before you and paved the way of freedom.
Thank a veteran for his or her service and offer a prayer of thanksgiving they returned safely home.