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Posted: June 8, 2018 2:41 p.m.
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Memorial Day celebrated

Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 15:13)

A memorial is something designed to preserve the memory of a person or event. Monday is Memorial Day. We honor men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. While I was deployed to Iraq in 2010-2011, our unit lost two Soldiers. Each year as those tragic days have gone by on the calendar, I have naturally remembered those Soldiers with sincere contemplation and deep respect.

We celebrate Memorial Day lest we forget our fallen Soldier's ultimate sacrifices for our freedom. I once volunteered to speak at a High School's JrROTC class. I wore my Class A's and spoke with them about being a Chaplain in the US Army. In the Q and A portion of my talk, a young man asked me if I was scared when I went to Iraq. I answered him that I'm sure I was, but I didn't really think about it because I had a job to do - take care of my Soldiers’ spiritual needs. No doubt, Military service men and women who paid the ultimate price had a strong sense of love and duty for the United States of America.

Appropriate here is the reading of the Gettysburg Address written by President Abraham Lincoln in November 1863. It honors the fallen who "gave the last full measure of devotion" at the Battle of Gettysburg several months earlier. This speech is engraved in stone at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC and is arguably the best speech ever written in American history. Note its pointedness, honesty and clarity:

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.  Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate -- we cannot consecrate – we cannot hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Let us pray for all of our fellow Soldiers that are deployed throughout the world and honor the memory and sacrifice of those who have gone before us.

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