Have you ever taken a minute to think about where you are and what happened in that very spot in generations past? Have you really thought about who may have had conflict or celebration on the same soil you are standing now? I recently stood on top of a hill covered with the graves of pioneer settlers and unknown casualties from a Civil War skirmish. The pioneer graves were marked with stacked stones, and the Civil War headstones were all in white and uniformly identified as unknown. Have you ever stopped to read those cast metal informational markers placed throughout our land? They are memorials to remember what happened in that very spot many years ago. They will tell of the lives lost and who commanded them in the battle. Every place in this country where our feet stand firm has a story to tell. Every strip of pavement, concrete foundation, manicured landscape and tree was once the sight of someone else’s telling.
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day and began just after the Civil War to remember those soldiers that had fallen in battle -yes, both Union and Confederate. Today, we look across the fields of fescue, with mountains and farms as a backdrop and forget so easily the horrors this nation faced during the Civil War. We don’t see homes and cities burning. We can’t really visualize musket and cannon fire as a normal. We fail to remember that for every square foot of property we live, drive, learn, shop and worship on was paid for with the lives of soldiers - young and - old who really just wanted to serve their country, exit the battle alive, and go home to their families.
The song says “all gave some and some gave all,” in reference to the American soldier. For the some that gave all, they gave it for “the all,” including you and me together. For the all that gave some, they likewise gave for you and for me, whether we be Union or Confederate, black or white, slave or free, Jew or Gentile. Jesus told his disciples the night of his arrest in John chapter 15 “greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
It is estimated that a combat veteran commits suicide every 22 minutes in this country. The trauma of what they lived, saw, and had to do in the name of freedom haunts the very depths of their being. Some are still giving all as we enjoy our three-day weekend.
Jesus gave his life in a cruel death so we could have way more than a three-day weekend or Sundays off from church. His life was freely given for each of us. He died for the Union soldier as well as the Confederate. He died for the Jew, Gentile, the slave and free, male and female. He didn’t discriminate nor did he choose which group was more or less worthy. He powerfully and with unwavering focus laid down his life for every living soul. If we are not accepting his gift of salvation, then we’re not living for him, and if we’re not living for him, we’re living against him.
This week I challenge you to take a moment and honor those that have fallen. Honor your flag you live under. Honor the sacrifice it cost to get you this far. Let’s ask ourselves, “What will they say about us, and what will we leave behind that will be remembered in generations to come?” Let that legacy be honor worthy.
We’re real people, living real lives, serving a real God, at Christpoint Church, on Liberty Square, in Sparta. Welcome home.