By CRAIG HARRIS
John 15:13 (NIV): Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
On Memorial Day, we set aside a weekend to remember those who have died to keep our country free. It is so appropriate that we do this. We honor those who gave "the full measure of devotion," as Abraham Lincoln said. We honor those who paid the supreme sacrifice and gave their very lives for us, the citizens of America.
If you count up the deaths in the wars American's have fought, you will see that it is more than 1,300,000 (If you add in the wounded, it is nearly three million.)
How do we honor those who have died? First, by being good citizens. We do this by voting, by contributing to society, by being good neighbors, by paying our fair share of taxes, by giving back to those in need, including those who have been harmed or displaced by man-made and natural disasters. We take pride in our communities and keep our streets and property clean. We honor them by being good workers or students, doing our best and taking pride in our efforts.
I also feel we honor those who have died for our freedom by enjoying that freedom. This may sound simplistic, but when we enjoy the freedoms our country offers, we are keeping those who died from doing so in vain. We are thankful people, then, and not self-centered or selfish. And we realize the price that has been paid. The third way we honor the fallen is by taking a moment to pause and say thanks.
What is amazing to think about it that those men and women died for us whether we appreciate it or not. We can go about our lives completely selfish and never think about them and we are still given the same freedom. We can be terrible neighbors or citizens and yet we have the same freedom and rights to enjoy. We can even scoff at History or deny that the soldiers existed, but freedom is ours for the taking. The gift of freedom is the gift of making our own choices.
When someone dies for you, don't let that death be in vain. And remember to pause and say thanks.
Autographed copies of Craig's fiction novel The Dead Peasants File are for sale at Blaser's Books in downtown Palestine. Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist Churches.