To someone that has lost a loved one in the service of our country, I can only imagine that a Memorial Day social media post may seem a paltry effort to offer thanks and honor for that ultimate sacrifice.
I know each person that does so, including me, does so in good faith in an attempt to honor our fallen soldiers. But I admit it feels unworthy.
It may even be seen as a trite and simplistic way for those of us that has not endured that pain to assuage the ‘guilt’ we feel as we enjoy a day off. While those that have winced as three volley salutes were fired, and cried tears over flag-draped caskets, have to bear another day remembering the lives that they can no longer share a happy memory with, we that enjoy that blood-bought freedom can blithely post an American flag on social media and go about our merry way to our BBQ’s and beach days.
No, a social media post or American flag cannot provide the proper honor. Nor can a parade. Nor a monument.
Lincoln knew this when he wrote the words, “We cannot consecrate – we cannot dedicate – we cannot hallow this ground” as he attempted to speak words of honor on a battlefield where thousands paid an ultimate sacrifice for lives they would never see, and captives they would never know were freed.
The only legitimate way to honor a person that has given up everything to serve a cause is to dedicate my life to that same cause.
One can only judge whether I have honored those that have fallen by the fruits of the life I live, that their service allows me to live.
Only if I stand boldly for the ideals they died for in the face of criticism and accusation; only if my children are taught that our rights are not given by decree or political whim, but ordained by divine Providence and protected only by the diligence of the citizen and the soldier; and only if I choose to make the song “God Bless America” more than lip-service, but rather work tirelessly in my daily life to make sure America is a land God would desire to bless, can I truly say that I honor those that gave their lives in battles both foreign, and domestic.
And so, my Memorial Day tribute does not start, or end, with this post. It is only a reminder to myself of what it means to honor those that gave all.
Lincoln states this better than I ever could.
“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 here 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.”
The words aren’t enough. But to those that have lost a loved one in the service of our country, I pray that our lives demonstrate in some small way the level of gratitude we feel towards you and the sacrifice your dear one made for us.