Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day: Remembering---And Forgetting

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Today is Memorial Day.

It's a national holiday because what it commemorates is directly related to our liberty and the preservation of our freedoms.

It is a special day to remember and honor those who gave their lives for the cause of freedom.

This day was once known as "Decoration Day," in fact as a kid growing up, my dad continued to call it that--at least some of the time. So did my grandparents.

Decoration Day originated after the Civil War to commemorate both the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in that war.

By the 20th century this day had been extended to include all Americans who had died in military service to their country.

The preferred name of the day gradually changed to "Memorial Day," which became the official name in 1967.

In 1968, Congress established that "Memorial Day" would no longer be on May 30 each year, but on the last Monday of May.

Memorial Day is a time to remember.

Unfortunately there are those who are using it to revise and undermine what this day is really about. I'll get to that in a moment. I also want to tell you about an incident at the University of Washington a few days ago.

Memorial Day gives us many things to remember---personal memories of loved ones who gave their lives for our country in military service, the stories that have been passed down through our families and our communities, and more recent memories of sons and daughters who have given their lives in service to this country.

There is one memorable fact that is seen by both Americans and citizens of other countries as they travel across Europe. They see the memorial cemeteries that have been established to bury our dead---those who gave their lives for freedom.

There are those who travel the world and consistently incorporate into their speeches an apology on behalf of America. It is said we have been arrogant and insensitive to other nations.

Those who say that, regardless of where they were born or the office they hold, don't really know America.

I see a different America. I see miles of US flags placed carefully beside the graves of our fallen soldiers across this nation---over 2.7 million dead from war related combat.

I see cemeteries spread across Europe with a total of 104,366 Americans buried, Americans who gave their lives for freedom---sometimes the freedom of others in other countries.

It bothers me profoundly for anyone to characterize America as arrogant or insensitive to other nations when it is well known that America has fought and died for the freedom of many in Europe and elsewhere, yet never tried to colonize, exploit or annex those countries we have helped protect and liberate.

America has only asked for enough land to bury our dead.

The arrogance lies with those who are ignorant to the facts, or choose to ignore them to advance a secular progressive agenda that is not, nor has it ever been American, much less Christian.

For most of us, Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those who have given their lives for this country. And to remember family members and loved ones who have passed.

My daughter and son-in-law were at a cemetery in Bellevue on Saturday visiting some family graves.

My son-in-law noticed some outstanding displays of artifacts from wars ranging from the Spanish-American War through Vietnam, including a 1951 Willys jeep built for the Korean War. He also noticed there were a number of historians and veterans with the displays, explaining and giving insights as to who served and how they served in their times.

One of the historians present specializes in preserving the uniforms women wore in all branches in roles as diverse as nurses, aids and gun fitters at the Bremerton Ship Yards.

In conversation with my son-in-law, she told him about a Memorial Day event at the University of Washington this past week.

She said the vice chancellor hosted the event and it was well attended. However, she said, she and all the veterans who had been asked to participate were shocked when it came time for the color guard to present the flag.

Instead of playing our national anthem--- the Star Spangled Banner, they chose to play "America the Beautiful."

While this is sometimes done at sporting events, at this kind of event with the color guard there to present the flag, it is protocol to play the Star Spangled Banner. She said they were hurt, shocked and offended.

However, there was more to come.

On this day, gathered to remember those who have given their lives for our country, the University had chosen a female lesbian who serves in the army as the keynote speaker.

She told my son-in-law her speech focused not on remembering those who had given their lives for our country but rather on how proud she is to be serving in the Army and be openly gay.

She said she and the veterans in attendance were insulted.

I wasn't even there and I'm insulted as well.

She was raised in a military home with her father serving this country for 28 years in the Army and her sister in the Air Force for 20 years, and she herself serving as an Army nurse, told my son-in-law how forces are remaking the military---how they are removing crosses from chapels to make them more "inclusive" and how the chaplaincy is under attack, with some working to phase it out.

America has bravely faced down the despots and dictators of the world who sought to destroy freedom.

It is now time to face the enemy within---those who seek to destroy and undermine the values and principles upon which this country was built and to marginalize the heritage of the greatest nation in the history of the world.

One way to face this enemy is to be absolutely sure your sons and daughters know the truth regarding America's Christian heritage.

There is a biblical model for this exercise.

There are two occasions in the biblical record where people of faith were told to pick up rocks and carry them to a certain place as a memorial to God's leading and divine blessing.

One has to do with the crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus 28:12. The other is recorded in Joshua 4.

In Joshua the record says that as God's people crossed Jordan on dry ground, Joshua told them to pick up stones from the middle of the dry river and carry them on into the Promised Land. He said it was important because "these stone would become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.

Once into the Promised Land, they camped at Gilgal. It was there that Joshua built an altar using the stones.

He told the people (v.20,21, 22, 23, 24), "When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying 'What are these stones?' then you shall inform your children saying, 'Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.' For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you crossed, that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever."

May we never forget God's faithfulness to this nation, nor must we forget to tell our children the story of God's faithfulness.

There is a false account being told at taxpayer expense every day in the classroom. There are those who would seize this Memorial Day to elevate deviant behavior and declare it normal, but this is a time to remember the blessings and faithfulness of God to this exceptional country, and the exceptional people who gave their lives for something bigger than themselves.

And to remember to tell our children the story.


  1. Gary, we veterans served in the military so that Americans could play any song they wanted, talk about whatever they want and worship however they want - your 'insulted' people are missing the whole point of the American freedoms.

    I thank all my fellow military veterans for their service and we all know that didn't give us the right to dictate to our fellow Americans.

  2. Gary, you are touching a nerve that will surely get a negative response from some. It will in volve how we define freedom. Are we free to do and live any way we choose, or are we free to do the right thing. The right thing, of course, is biblical morality and Christian values. Well stated. Thanks.

  3. Gary, As is often the case, it seems your well-intended desire to honor our great country has caused you if not to overstate the good we have done, but to deny evil. In the Bible, that is usually the sign of idolatry, and while I can't say what is in your heart about worshiping our admittedly great land, I can say that I am disappointed in your refusal to admit that we have committed sins, even in our foreign policy.

    Yes, we should be glad for those who fought Hitler, and I myself have a family member buried in one of those European graves. So please do not write me off as merely a political liberal, as I suspect you or some of your readers might. What you said about US soldiers in Europe is very touching and a good reminder.

    But we have acted arrogantly at times. We have bullied other nations, committed atrocities (you've surely seen the pictures of our Marines holding the heads they decapitated in the early 20th century while fighting the original Sandino in Nicaraga, so for instance.) You know we have violated the just war ethics by invading lands and bombing civilians, from the Dominican Republic to Argentina. We have supported despots and tyrants. We have assassinated elected officials, bullied others in international treaty negotiations and failed to keep our word in others. These are just the sad facts of history, and our foreign affairs have been a mixed bag of good and bad (and, perhaps, bad actions motivated by good intentions.)

    We evangelical Christians are not surprised by human failings, by how power corrupts, about how sin effects every land and every culture. To imply that we are exempt from this, Gary, is not just bad history and bad politics, it is bad theology. You should know better.

    One does not have to say that we have never acted arrogantly or say that we don't have to apologize to anyone to be proud of the good we have done. But to put it as you did is not becoming of a theologically mature Bible believing leader.

    1. Byron, I do believe you criticize without just cause. As is said earlier, you must not be reading Gary regularly. I'm also going to guess that you are schooled through public education since it is very difficult to conclude a balanced truth when one is so carefully inundated with liberal view points that 'sound' so good. Without extraordinary skills in critical thinking it is difficult to not be swayed by what 'sounds' most reasonable....for example 'marriage equality'. How can anyone be against that? Or freedom of 'choice'. Again, how can anyone be against that either? You see? It is cleaver marketing of sound bites.

      With those cleaver sound bites one is pulled away from focusing on the simple don't go with men and nothing, absolutely NOTHING justifies killing the baby!!!!

      Get educated in reality and ask those who have been through it and know. EX: women who were shocked and recognized too late that they had become murders because someone raped them. Ask them what they think of killing the baby just because.....

    2. I wrote below my insistence that Gary doesn't give a fair or full or honest account of our sins in foreign affairs. You can read that if you wish.

      But I want to reply to this: what in the world do your remarks about homosexuality or abortion have to do with this? I didn't say anything about this, have been a pro-lifer since being at the first national Right to Life convention in the early 70s -- you needn't lecture me about that. You mention critical thinking skills. One of those skills is sticking to the subject and not making odd-ball accusations that are unfounded. I am not a liberal and said as much in the piece I wrote. Your failed to answer a single thing I wrote. If I am wrong in even one sentence I wrote, I will gladly admit it, as it is never a joy to criticize a brother, or to have to sadly admit our great nation has done bad things.

  4. They are now marching in the streets of France to protest gay marriage and the movement away from the Bible. Why don't we do that here?

    1. When it is done here, the news media will not print it. It's all very hush, hush~~~

    2. Not if done properly, you need to tie up some key intersections downtown during 5pm rush hour. That will make the news no matter what.

  5. God has truly been faithful to our country. Like you said, we need to remember to tell our children the story of this faithful God and these exceptional people, or it won't be long before we as a nation will lose everything that we have gained. Here is a helpful resource for that task of teaching: "Why is America Free?" Notice from the things they wrote how clearly so many early great Americans understood God's role in our country.

  6. Gary thank you for pointing out the goodness in America. There are those who can't see it or don't want to see it because they have a plank in their eye. You consistently teach that man is fallen and needs a Savior. You have never taught that America is without fault. America is an exceptional nation and does so much good all over the world. For someone who claims to be a Christian and critizes you on that point says much more about themselves than about the faults they so readily point out in America or your teaching. God bless you Gary. Keep up the good work.

  7. Byron. It appears you have not been reading Gary's comments long or are not paying attention. He regularly points out the faults in America and calls for repentance and spiritual restoration.

  8. Gary, I read again over the weekend, (as I do every Memorial and Veteran's Day), your grandmother's "A Mother's Vision". Abundant blessings to you and yours. Mimi from MA

  9. I do read Gary pretty regularly, and I appreciate his regular prophetic word against abortion and other domestic sins. I don't think he criticizes our foreign policy much. I re-read his piece here, to be sure I was being careful and fair, and, again, to deny that we have been arrogant, as he did, is historically untenable and theologically soft.

    To the gentleman that wonders about my critical thinking skills and whether I went to public school, I might note that I am old enough that we never learned any of this in public school. And is beside the point.

    I don't know what he means about my sound bites that sound good. As I noted, we have done great, good things in this land of which I am proud, but, like all nations, we are fallen, and have done horrible things. To say "oh, you must have gone to public school" is such a lame response. Did we or did we not assassinate foreign officials? Did we or did we not support tyrants, like Pinochet, or the Shah of Iran? Did our troops behead civilians in Nicaragua or did they not. Have we broken treaties? Facts are facts and to downplay the sinful side of our history indicates a large blind spot. One does not have to cover up past sins that the Lord and the rest of the world knows all about.

    (The left wants to "blame America first" or only state our failings, and that is just as bad, but not at issue here. Please don't accuse me of that, as I did nothing of the sort, as I don't believe in that warped view.)

    The left usually says America does no good, the right usually says we do nothing wrong. Biblical people know better, and clearly say so. Gary simply did not speak the full truth on this matter in this post. The Bible is pretty clear about those who cover-up sin.


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