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.