Yesterday, a long line of war veterans – men and women – walked to the front of our church as we honored them. Some wore uniforms they could still squeeze into. Some proudly wore red, white and blue. Some came in t-shirts. Several slowly climbed the steps with canes and a little assist from fellow veterans.
Most were old and graying, but amidst them stood two young men – one just recently returned from Afghanistan. All were proud to have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. We applauded them, and stood in tribute to the thousands who gave their lives.
These veterans spanned four generations. And I thought: “What a blessing that only two of the youngest generation” felt called to serve. What a blessing it is that we haven’t feared an invasion of our borders and lands.
Good or bad, I wasn’t qualified to serve. After two years in ROTC, our commanding officer told me I couldn’t hear well enough to continue.
But a number of friends returned scarred from Viet Nam. And now we’re seeing veterans returning from the Middle East with similar emotional and physical scars. And we forget the price that their families paid as well.
Sometimes, we Americans forget the price already paid for our freedoms. But those who paid it remember, as do their families.
In 1985, I met two young men from North Carolina who traveled to Gettysburg for a crop protection meeting. Gettysburg stirred their hearts far deeper than anything I previously understood. Their great uncles and grandfathers shed blood in its Civil War wheat fields. Two returned home wounded; a third was buried there.
The rising risk of our apathy
With each generation removed from the sacrifices, we grow increasingly at risk. Not all nations value freedom so highly.
Far too many are still ruled by ruthlessness and an addiction for more. That’s the dangerous nature of men who envision a “god” made in their own image. So beware!
Our freedoms are as precious gems sought by the whole world. To preserve them, we must honor those who gave them to us and those who protect them.
Freedom is never free. It's paid for by sacrifice – in installments!
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