Memorial Day is the kick off of summer fun. It’s a great three-day weekend for all of us hard working Americans. But it is so much more than that. Memorial Day is a day to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. They gave their lives.
There will always be debate about war, and whether it was right or wrong to be involved in this place or that place, but you see none of that matters on Memorial Day. Memorial Day is not about politics. It is about the soldier who put on a uniform to go wherever he or she was sent, and it is about that soldier doing their duty. Even if that duty meant dying for their country. When they put on that uniform, they were committing themselves to being our heroes, our warriors, our defenders. Whether they died in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, or a training accident on a base, make no mistake, their sacrifice was not in vain. We cannot allow that. Their sacrifice was for you and me. It was for our freedom. They didn’t die for the world (even though their sacrifice may have freed or helped many people from other lands), they died for America. They died for Americans, just like you and me. They died for their families and friends. They died so that we might live – and live free.
Everyday we wake up with more freedom that most people can ever dream of having. Even today with the iron curtain of communism gone, other countries still do not have the freedoms that are bestowed upon all Americans. We choose what job to have, what religion (if any) to practice, where to go to school, where to live, what to wear, what to say. The list is endless. We have more choices about what kind of coffee to drink that some people have about their entire life. It is so easy to take it all for granted. It is so easy to forget.
Today, I challenge you not to forget, but to remember each day, not just on Memorial Day. One of my favorite movies is Saving Private Ryan. In the movie, a group of soldiers search for Private Ryan to find him and send him home because his three brothers have already been killed in the war. The war department wanted their poor mother to have one son survive. The soldiers find Ryan, and are trying to get him to safety, when they take enemy fire. Then comes my favorite quote from the movie. Tom Hanks’ character, Captain Miller, is dying, and he tells Private Ryan, “Earn this, Earn it.” Tom Hank’s character and many other soldiers died so that Private Ryan might live and return home.
Private Ryan lived his life each day trying to be worthy of the sacrifice that all of those men gave so that he might live. At the end of the movie, Ryan kneels on the grave of Captain Miller and tearfully says that he did his best to “earn it.” This Memorial Day I challenge you to remember each day the shoulders we stand upon, and the lives that were given to preserve our freedom, and I ask you to do your very best “to earn it “.