Pastor Jim Dewar, US Navy Retired
First Baptist Church, Bancroft, IA
Here in the USA we recently celebrated Memorial Day. What exactly is Memorial Day? It is remembering the men and women who died while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States of America. It is a day we pause and remember their sacrifice.
Here in the United States of America we have several different patriotic holidays and sometimes people get them confused. Here are a few to take note of. Flag Day is celebrated on June 14th and commemorates the adoption of the US Flag on June 14, 1777. Armed Forces Day honors those currently serving in the Armed Forces of the USA and is held the third Saturday of May. Another big US patriotic holiday is the 4th of July. It is celebrated with parades, picnics and by displaying the flag and just about anything else that is red, white and blue. It is the celebration of the birth of the United States of America. Veterans day is a day to celebrate the service of all US Military Veterans who served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America. Veterans Day is held annually on November 11th.
Memorial Day is observed on the third Monday of May is a day set aside to remember those who died while serving in the Armed Forces of the USA. Anyone that has heard me speak knows that I say it is more than a holiday on the calendar; it really stands for the names of those who died. To me that makes it more real and personal. In our family we remember the name Antone Anderson, my Father-in-law’s uncle who died in Europe in WW2. Also my Dad’s first cousin Clifford Kent from Indiana who also died in Europe in WW2. Interestingly he died a few days after his only son was born, reminding us of the sacrifice of those who stay behind here in the homeland losing father, mother, son, or daughter. Here in Bancroft we remember Thomas Murray, Tom lost his life in the service of his country during WW2 in the Philippines. Recently in Kossuth County the remains of one of our County’s own William Kennedy who died at Pearl Harbor during WW2, were brought back for burial in Titonka. These and thousands of other names remind us what Memorial Day really is.
The words of the second line of the third verse of “America the Beautiful” help us to understand this great truth of understanding Memorial Day. It says “Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life”. What a powerful statement about the love of country.
There is a Bible verse that is sometimes used by some to describe those who died serving this country. John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” That is a powerful verse of Scripture and along with the verse of song above, it reminds us of the deep devotion and love of country of our service men and women who gave their life for our country.
In Biblical context, John 15:13 is speaking of Jesus Christ who went to the Cross, which is another battlefield where He and only He fought and won the battle for our souls, when He died paying the debt of our sins. That verse is saying that we know no greater love than that. Jesus was willing to die for our sins which is the only way to have a relationship with God. We read in the Gospel of John verse 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” The Apostle Paul, in I Corinthians 15, is speaking of the Gospel in verse one and says in verse 3. “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” Christ finished His work when he arose from the dead. Verse 4 says, “ And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures”.
On Memorial Day we remember the Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine who gave up their life for the freedom we enjoy in the USA, while Christ gave up His life on the Cross and is paying for our sins that we might have Eternal Life. John 3:16 reads, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”