I will never forget the smell of the ocean in San Diego when the shout of several drill instructors herded us on to yellow painted shoe prints strategically placed in front of a wall with a pledge. It was a promise painted in extra large letters on a wall for us to feel the sacrifice we were about to give for the cause of freedom. Not one of us standing on the asphalt that evening, or the thousands of young men and women before and after us, would ever choose the fight, battle or war but we all swore to stand and lay our lives down for family, friends and mostly people we will never know. It is an amazingly honorable decision for any recent high school graduate or for any age, gender, faith or ethnicity. The choice to lay down your life for others deserves some honor. Consider Jesus’ words on the topic.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15.12-13
In the new testament the word honor has a root meaning that is defined as “accounted as of great price, precious, costly.” When you consider all those who did not know what war they would be called to fight but willingly were ready, committed, loyal to the death. We should count it as worth something very costly to us.
There is a beautiful tradition in Israel for remembering those who have died. It comes from the old testament years when Israel was wandering in the desert and people would place stones on their graves to memorialize them and not forget. They would circle through the desert for forty years and pass hundreds of these piles of stones and remember. To the Israelites these lives were pricless and were counted of value to them. They wanted to remember.
Today there are roughly 22 million veterans who have served in the U.S. military living today who all made a choice to lay down their life for you, for your freedom. They were not in charge of picking the war but they honorably stepped into those footprints and made a promise to you and me to fight to protect to the death. I am not a fan of war and its gruesome and inhuman results. I sit on this Memorial Day and think of the warriors.
My we all remember and honor the great price these warriors gave for us, for you.