Why we need to remember our freedoms this Memorial Day Weekend

Published 4:47 pm Tuesday, May 24, 2016

This past Sunday was the day after Armed Forces Day. This upcoming Sunday will be the day before Memorial Day. Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day are two holidays that are connected to our honoring and remembering those men and women who have served in the defense of our nation’s freedom.

The first of the two holidays is for celebrating current members of those five branches (Army, Navy, Marine Corp, Air Force, and Coast Guard) that are charged with defending our nation. The second of the two is for remembering all men and women who have been killed in the defense of our nation.

I was not as familiar with Armed Forces Day as I was with Memorial Day. I am just one of so many Americans who don’t think and pray enough for our men and women who serve in our Armed Forces.

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I am not an unpatriotic person, but am like too many Americans; removed from the aspect of serving in the branches of our military.

I asked this question of my congregations this past Sunday. “What percentage of Americans currently serve in a branch of our Armed Forces?

What would you say? I had guesses from ten percent all the way down to less than one percent. Most people were not aware that less than one-half of one percent currently serve in the defense of our nation. That’s less than one-half of one percent!

In reality, that percentage may be appropriate with all the technology that we have these days. Honestly, we are not on the verge of needing hundreds of thousands to invade a beach or continent like Normandy and Europe over 70 years ago. During those years, we also had to fight just as doggedly in another realm of the world, the Pacific. Very large numbers of men and women were needed during World War II.

It’s also a sobering thought to remember that in 1968 in Vietnam our country had almost 550, 000 men engaged in that one country.

That’s just one year and, now, our entire active Army is about that same size.

This new century is different. The defense of our nation has to be much more concentrated in smaller areas and with an enemy that’s different from years past. Enemies these days don’t wear the uniform of a country.

Recognizing the enemy is more difficult these days.

Still, we have deaths. They may not be on the horrible level of past wars, but it doesn’t matter how many die if the one who dies is your son or brother.

I read an article in a national paper. It was entitled “How to Celebrate Memorial Day for Under $30.” It gave 15 ways. Among the suggestions were throwing a party, going camping, hosting a potluck, chili-fest, or wine and cheese party. The article also talked of parades and movies.

I’m sure that their suggestions were not meant to be a list in a particular order, but I read all the way down to #13 before there was a mention of a military cemetery. To me, military cemeteries aren’t as much fun as camping and parties.


This Sunday many people will speak of the cost of freedom. We’ll say that it is not free.

That’s true.

Throughout our history, the number of our sons and daughters who have died in defense of this nation rises to over one million. Thomas Campbell was a Scottish poet and wrote, “The patriot’s blood is the seed of freedom’s tree.”

We have the world’s greatest Freedom Tree. Monday, we should remember why.