Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day: Time to Remember…and Realize

Somewhere in France
June 20, 1944

Dear folks,                              
Glen Silvius (R), somewhere in France (1944)
Will write you a few lines from my fox hole position to let you know everything is going as well as can be expected.  We have plenty to eat and plenty of time that there is nothing moving, but the din of battle is always present.  I am limited as to what I can say but just the same this is war and I have seen some action.  I got mail twice since I have been in France.  We will have no trouble receiving mail but you may not get so much so don’t let it cause you any worry.

Letters such as this from my Uncle Glen Silvius to my grandparents and family in the days following the Normandy Invasion, in June, 1944, cause me to consider the great sacrifice by both members of the armed services and by their loved ones during World War II.  Even though communications between the battlefield and home were more primitive at that time than they are on this Memorial Day, many believe that Americans today tend to be more disconnected from those who serve in our military.
Gala True, a medical anthropologist and folklorist with the Department of Veterans Affairs and contributor to the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project was interviewed by Megan Rigger and Laura Santhanam of PBS News HourMs. True noted that whereas 12% of the population were in military service during World War II, now “less than 1% of our population has served.”  She adds,

The experience of going to war and coming home—we don’t have as much awareness.  We have a disconnect in our society about what’s going on, [about] who has served and what they experienced. In many ways, Americans today feel removed from the Global War on Terror and military conflict. So few have served, and [so] it’s very easy for people say now that ‘I didn’t want these wars,’ but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t all part of this.

On this Memorial Day, as I remember the millions who have served and are now serving our country in uniform, I am gaining a new appreciation of the importance of “remembering” and being thankful.  Unlike the 1940’s, we have almost instantaneous communication from battlefield to the home front in a war that has extended over three times as long as WW II.  If what Gala True has said it true, we need to be more devoted to making connections with current military personnel and their families as well as to our veterans and their families, many of whom face physical and emotional scars of war.
And so, I’m asking myself, “Am I thankful for the political freedom I enjoy today, purchased at great price?”  And, perhaps more importantly, “Am I thankful for the spiritual freedom purchased by God’s provision of the Divine Son, Jesus Christ, Who is God come to Earth in the flesh to live an exemplary human life, and to die on a Roman cross to provide a way of reconciliation between sinful humanity and a holy God?”  After all, it is Jesus Christ Who, more than any other single Person, has changed history.  His death and resurrection launched the Gospel message that the war between God and each sinful human being can come to an end through confession of sin and surrender to God’s loving invitation to peace (Romans 6: 23).

The light of the Gospel of Christ has shown in the hearts of men and women down through the centuries, reflected in the formation of representative governments based on rule of law designed to protect individual freedom and reward individual responsibility. Consequently, although America has fought in many wars, there has been a general understanding that war is a last result, something to be avoided if possible, and not an occasion to conquer other lands but to bring freedom and restoration to people otherwise destined for enslavement and/or death. 

We can all point to morally questionable actions of America in war.   The Vietnam War comes to mind in this context.  When civilian or military leaders deviate from the biblical foundation upon which America was founded, our nation risks losing her distinction from terrorists and other warring groups who have no moral foundation.

In America and in the world, Christianity is being marginalized by those who deny biblical authority and place their faith in human reason.  American leadership in the world is losing its distinction and justification in both war and peace.  This Memorial Day, we need to REMEMBER, but also REALIZE our role in preserving freedom through responsibility. 

So, as I remember those who have sacrificed for our political freedom today, I must also realize that our political freedom is fragile and is being threatened by those who “preach” a “freedom” instituted by human efforts alone apart from the Gospel of Christ.  This is true because true freedom and America’s exceptionalism has been possible because of the moral and spiritual foundation that Christianity has provided through its influence upon our Founding Fathers and the founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

On this Memorial Day, I remember my Uncle Glen and many like him who served, with over a million Americans giving their lives for the cause of freedom.  Won’t you join me in thanking God for over 1.3 million Americans in active duty military, plus another 1 million serving in the reserves (by Department of Defense estimates).  Also, please join me in praying for our military chaplains who have an increasingly difficult job of providing spiritual leadership and guidance in the midst of stressful situations no matter where they are serving.  Most of all, let us pray for peace in the many war torn parts of the world today where whole ethnic groups are being threatened with destruction or being displaced from their homes and way of life.

We need holidays such as Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter to REMEMBER and to REALIZE how much we have to be thankful for, and how important it is that we have responded to God’s offer of His Peace through the Cross of Christ.   Peace begins when we surrender to the great Peacemaker.  In Christ, we can gain a correct view of past history, a realistic view of our present world, and a positive outlook for the future. 

In Colossians 1: 19-20, the Apostle Paul writes, For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

According to the Bible, one day, all wars will cease. The Apostle John wrote in Revelation 21: 4-5a about the future time when Christ’s kingdom will come,

There will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new."

3 comments:

Larissa Malik said...

Thank you for posting this. Very encouraging and a great reminder for us as we celebrate another Memorial Day. Even with so many national and worldwide tensions, God is sovereign and trustworthy. And it's so sad to see more of our country turn away from Him and the Truth of the Word. But I guess we shouldn't be surprised, but instead remain faithful to Him so that perhaps more will come to have that personal relationship with the One True God.

Larissa Malik said...

Thank you for posting this. Very encouraging and a great reminder for us as we celebrate another Memorial Day. Even with so many national and worldwide tensions, God is sovereign and trustworthy. And it's so sad to see more of our country turn away from Him and the Truth of the Word. But I guess we shouldn't be surprised, but instead remain faithful to Him so that perhaps more will come to have that personal relationship with the One True God.

John Silvius said...

Thank you, Larissa, for your comment. In the midst of "national and worldwide tensions" as you say, it is indeed encouraging and comforting to be able to rest in God's "providential and trustworthy" care while we do our part by remembering His great deeds and the deeds of those who have served us.