Seventy-five years ago this month, World War II ended in Europe.
My grandmother was 13 years old. She remembers running out to the fields with her sisters to tell their dad that the war was over (or mostly over – Japan would surrender later that summer). Her big brother would be home again soon.
For almost four years, ever since the Pearl Harbor bombing, war had dominated American news and daily life. With millions of people – around 11 percent of the U.S. population – serving in the military, every family was affected.
Everyone knew the risk and sacrifice each soldier, sailor, marine and fighter pilot faced. Even the women and children who would never see combat were raising victory gardens and collecting scrap metal for the war effort.
The forgotten risk
Ten days before Japanese pilots bombed Pearl Harbor and launched the United States’ involvement in World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a speech declaring December 15 to be Bill of Rights Day. “Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy,” the president said, “forget in time that men have died to win them.”
In the years immediately following that speech, the families of World War II understood well what their soldiers risked. They knew the value of liberty that had been bought with friends’ and family members’ sacrifice.
Though both of my grandfathers served in the military, no one else in my family has since. As such, I know only a few people who are in the military or come from military families.
War doesn’t affect every citizen like it did in World War II, and all too often I forget about the continued sacrifices military members and their families make. But their service affects me every day.
Regardless of your opinion on war, we can’t ignore the fact that the freedom we enjoy right now was paid for by the sacrifices of those fighting in wars long ago — and that today soldiers are still sacrificing their all for someone else’s good.
Take time to remember
Many times in the Bible, God told His people to remember. Remember when He rescued them from Egypt. Remember when He split the Red Sea in half so they could cross to safety.
This Memorial Day, we have an opportunity to remember the sacrifices of others that gave us our liberty.
Remember. Remember. Remember.
If you have a day off this Memorial Day, consider spending some time actively remembering. Maybe go to a Memorial Day service (online if you have to) or write a letter to a service member.
Ask older relatives or friends about their memories of past wars. Invite a veteran to share about their experiences if they’re willing. Ask good questions and thank them for their service.
Talk to a military family you know. Ask what sacrifices they’ve had to make, and if there is anything you can do to help. If you can’t think of anyone you know to ask, spend some time learning about military sacrifices in previous wars or even recent missions.
Make this Memorial Day more than just a day off. More than a barbecue or a picnic. Make it a day to remember. And take some time to pray for members of the military and their families who are still risking and sacrificing so much.
Copyright 2020 Lauren Dunn. All rights reserved.