No one can deny the high price of human conflict.
As a warrior, you made overwhelming sacrifices to serve. You left your home, your friends and your loved ones to follow a calling to service.
You also know that some paid a much higher price by sacrificing all. Their deaths, their faithfulness to mission, their commitment to their brothers in arms are worthy of honor. They should be remembered for their valor.
The Warriors Journey exists to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of warriors who have served our nation. We believe it is a solemn duty to ensure that all Americans remember the sacrifice and commitment of those who laid down their lives in service to a grateful nation.
Warriors return from the battlefield changed forever by two realities. First, not all who deployed returned. Second, those who return are forever changed. Whether that change is positive or disastrous is often determined by making peace with the sacrifices of war, by determining that loss of life on the battlefield counts for something beyond the conflict.
A Worthy Honor
149 years ago, this month, a deeply divided and emotionally scarred United States officially commemorated the sacrifice of warriors in the Civil War. General John A. Logan, who led an organization for Northern Civil War veterans called for a day of remembrance. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” In the years to come, that day became known as “Decoration Day.”
Their deaths, their faithfulness to mission, their commitment to their brothers in arms are worthy of honor.
As the Civil War wound down, thousands of Union soldiers were held in prisoner of war camps thrown together by the Confederate Army. Conditions were horrible. More than 250 Union warriors died from exposure and disease at Charleston, South Carolina. A single mass grave contained the truth about their treatment.
May 1, 1865 that horrible mass grave was reopened by more than 1,000 freed slaves who along with regiments of the U.S. Colored Troops and a small contingent of white residents of the area built a new burial site for the Union warriors.
It’s just that those who never experienced battle cannot possibly understand the price paid for America’s freedom.
A Changed Holiday
True to their faith, the slaves and soldiers all freed by the war effort, sang hymns, read the Word of God and placed flowers around the graves. By 1890, the day was commemorated by all of the Union states. Over the next 50 years, Decoration Day only honored the Civil War dead.
World War One changed that. Decoration Day came to commemorate the sacrifice of all fallen US warriors. The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated on Decoration Day in 1922. It became a national holiday in 1971 when it was renamed “Memorial Day.”
Oddly, many Americans fail to make the connection between a three-day weekend and the sacrifice of fallen soldiers. Picnics, auto races and outdoor celebrations are more commonplace than solemn observances. But, officially at least, American flags are still to fly at half-mast until 12pm on Memorial Day and are raised to the top of the staff after. In 2,000, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that encouraged all Americans observe a moment of silence at 3 pm, local time for a National Moment of Remembrance.
Returning warriors often become confused or frustrated by the lack of recognition the civilian community offers to the battle-weary and lost. It can quickly become personal although it is not intended that way. It’s just that those who never experienced battle cannot possibly understand the price paid for America’s freedom.
In a small way, 9/11 changed all that. The loss of life that day followed by the tremendous response toward setting things right brought patriotism back from the shadows in many ways. Serving became an honor again. The civilian community offered support and encouragement. Still, paying for a warrior’s lunch doesn’t go far to recognize the price many Americans paid over the past 16 years.
Memorial Day is about remembrance. We remember the sacrifice of warriors.
This Memorial Day, our hope is to help warriors, active and those separated from active service, and the civilian community recognize that sacrifices made on the battlefield are not in vain. War changes lives, every life. It cannot be otherwise. The price of battle remains much too costly. The number of lives lost remains much too high.
No Greater Love
How can we make sense of it all? We need to look beyond ourselves and our peers and see the bigger picture. The Bible says, “No greater love has any man than this, that he lay down his life for a brother.” (John 15:3) God understands the price and value of human life. He sees the commitment made by all warriors to the cause of freedom and He respects it.
God Himself sent His Son, Jesus Christ to live among us. A great spiritual battle waged between God and the enemy, Satan. The devil staked his claim on the souls of all people, due to our rebellion against God. The prize was the eternal destiny of mankind.
Jesus, God the Son, came so we can find life and live it in abundance. He knows the price we pay as humans for the rebellion and sins we have committed. He knows the price that other people’s sin costs us.
Jesus battled the enemy by allowing Himself to be falsely accused, convicted in a mock court and hung on a cross. He died sinless, but bore the weight of our sins on His shoulders. He settled our sin debt for us even before we were born. And he died on that cross and three days later, rose again…settling the price of our sin in the process.
Some choose to ignore the reality and cost of His sacrifice.
Memorial Day is about remembrance. We remember the sacrifice of warriors. We marvel at the callous way some choose to ignore the purpose of the observance and simply turn it into another three-day weekend. It doesn’t seem just. It doesn’t seem right.
Spiritually speaking, we should also remember the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the One who settled our sin debt. Some choose to ignore the reality and cost of His sacrifice. Still, like a warrior who died defending another’s freedom regardless of whether they understood the sacrifice, Jesus died once to pay the sin debt for all. The conclusion is clear, true warriors die in defense of freedom. Jesus truly died and rose again in defense of all mankind. His life sacrificed for yours. His resurrection from the dead ensuring that should you choose Him, you would remain free for eternity.
Relationship with Christ begins with a simple prayer. “Lord Jesus, I acknowledge the sacrifice You made on my behalf. While I was still a sinner, You died and rose again for me. I acknowledge that because of the wrong things I have done, I do not deserve Your grace. I accept Your grace because it is a free gift to me insured by Your death, burial and resurrection. My commitment is that I want to follow You all of my life. I choose to take Your freedom as my own and serve You as my Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!