This weekend, we celebrate Memorial Day, which was initiated to commemorate and memorialize our nation’s war dead, those men and women who gave their last full measure of devotion to defend our country and our freedoms. In times of crisis and danger, we have always found men and women willing to don the uniforms of our military branches and put themselves in harm’s way to risk their lives for us. Sadly, some of these brave Americans have lost their lives defending our country.
When I lived in England in the early ‘70s, I was visiting a beautiful Anglican church in a picturesque English village and, as was usually the case, there was a memorial to those horrifyingly large numbers of men who died in the carnage of World War I and World War II. In this village, the memorial contained an inscription that so touched me. It read, “In England’s hour of greatest need, they sacrificed all their tomorrows that England might remain free.” How moving.
All the men and women who were killed defending our country died before their natural time. Most of them were in their teens or 20s. My father, a World War II Navy veteran with many battle stars from the Pacific, to the day he died, remembered men he served with who died in their early 20s far from home. They indeed sacrificed all their tomorrows, never becoming fathers or grandfathers because their lives were tragically cut short defending our freedoms.
I had two boyhood friends who died before their 20th birthdays in a far place called Vietnam. They sacrificed all their tomorrows because their country called upon them to serve. I have often thought about those two guys at significant points in my own life—when I got married, when I became a father, and when my firstborn got married. They sacrificed all these things for their country.
Let’s all pause and give thanks this Memorial Day weekend for our war dead—heroes all. And thank their families for their service and their sacrifice.
–Dr. Richard Land is President of Southern Evangelical Seminary