The Nation They Died For

Two Vietnam veterans salute as the colors are ... Memorial Day is, for many of us, an extra day to relax in a three-day weekend that might include brats on the grill, picnicking, a parade, and if we dare to hope—a little sunshine.

But the day itself has a meaning that has so much more significance than simply the entry-point of summer. As Christians, Memorial Day reminds us that we are part of a nation, with a history, with privileges, and with responsibilities. It reminds us that we are grateful to those soldiers who were willing to lay down their lives for their nation.

Whenever I see photographs from Iraq, or Afghanistan, where soldiers are on those front lines of battle, the images that burn into my heart are the ones where our men and women are kneeling together in prayer, right there in the middle of the dusty, hot desert.

My grandfather, who fought in WWII and who passed away two summers ago, would always tell me, “Amy, there are no atheists in foxholes.” I’ve heard that many times, but my grandpa lived it – and almost died in one of those foxholes in a violent skirmish with some Japanese soldiers.

I am so glad he finally opened up to tell his stories of what really happens in war. It took him so many years to do that. I’m grateful to him for another reason too. Grandpa was the first person I ever saw read a Bible. He had this old leather book and also one of those paperback daily devotionals from his church. We didn’t have those things in our house, and when I went up to the grandparent’s house for long summer visits, he shared and modeled Christ with my brother and me. So, he witnessed to us in his actions and his devotion to God’s Word.

Grandpa loved Memorial Day. The parades, the cemetery gatherings with other veterans, the whole thing. He was so proud to be an American.

Today it is harder to be a patriot. It’s not something that is taught in schools – at least not the way it used to be. And a lot of Americans are pretty vocal with their opinions about war, about whether they support our military, or about whether their neighbor ascribes to the same side of the political aisle that they do.

In years past, it used to be important that America be first and best. Do we, should we care for the pride of our nation? Do we stop to pray for her righteousness? Think about this verse from Proverbs: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." (Prov. 14:34)

This Memorial day the fact that there are thousands in our country who’ve lost their homes and everything to violent storms is a heavy reminder that the world is not perfect. While we can’t bring perfectionism to our world or hasten heaven or the return of Christ with our good deeds, we do need to reach out to the hurting however we can. As a member of the Body of Christ, I know that we must always minister to the poor and the lost in His name. But as great as America is (or was), I’ve never believed that government is our savior. As our money says—at least for now anyway— In God we trust.

Let us be grateful to God for these men and women who served and who are serving. And in the middle of the fun with family and friends, let’s take some time this weekend to pray for our nation and for our righteousness in Christ alone.