It is the Memorial Day weekend. What does that mean to you?
For many, this holiday is the kickoff to the summer. Many will celebrate the day at the beach or the lake. Some will have cookouts in their backyard.
My family spent 14 years in Indiana and Michigan, and we had our share of “interesting” Memorial Days. In the small town where we lived in Indiana there was always a big Memorial Day parade. The Little League baseball teams always rode in that parade, and as a coach I usually found myself sitting in the bed of a pickup truck with 12 to 15 boys as we followed along in the parade. Every year but one, the temperature was below 40 degrees. I have to admit that I did not look forward to those parades.
I remember one Memorial Day in Michigan when it was even colder. The high temperature that day never reached freezing, but I was standing on the back porch in my winter coat, hat and gloves cooking chicken and pork ribs on my grill. My next door neighbor and good friend Ron stepped outside, looked at me and declared, “Well, Brad, you’ve finally lost it!” As he stepped back into the warmth of his home he called out, “Call me when it’s ready.”
You see, I always have cooked out on Memorial Day. My dad did it before me. It was a tradition. And I stubbornly held on to that tradition, no matter the weather. But here is the danger: Because I was following tradition, I could easily forget the meaning of the holiday.
Living on the edge of an Army base has been a good reminder to me. The purpose of Memorial Day is not a holiday and cookout for me. It is to remember those who have given their lives in the service of their country. Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this: that a man lay down his life for a friend.” For those of you who have lost loved ones in this latest war, or in any of those that preceded it, we want to express our gratitude to you. You did not choose that fate, but your loved one knew it was a possibility, and they went to serve anyway. That inspires awe within me. I am grateful for those who paid the ultimate price for my freedoms.
There was one who died for all mankind everywhere. The freedom he offers is not limited to one country, but for all people and for all eternity. Jesus died that we might know God and live forever. For that sacrifice, too, I am grateful.
On this Memorial Day, I remember those who sacrificed their lives for this great country. I also remember the one who gave his life so that I might live forever. And I say thank you. It is the least I can do.