I have never lived without freedom. My life has always had certain unalienable rights. We, as Americans, have very little understanding of what it means to live under oppression. I think that too often causes us to take it for granted.
Today, I encourage you to thank someone who fought for those freedoms. The Americans that most appreciate the freedoms we enjoy are the men and women who have put their lives on the line for those freedoms. I think I understood this difference one Memorial Day as I sat on the porch and listened to some stories told by Wendy’s Uncle Jack.
Uncle Jack is a veteran of the Vietnam War. He stayed in the military until he retired as a Lt. Colonel. Uncle Jack is a great communicator. That day as I listened I did not realize that I was privy to a special moment. As we left that day, my father-in-law (Pops) asked how I had started that conversation. I told him I did not really remember how we got there. I then learned that Pops had never heard his brother talk about Vietnam that much in the many years that had passed since the war had ended.
Uncle Jack talked about what he saw in Vietnam in the lives of the people. He told me about one of his toughest days in commanding his troops and the devastation a battle had caused in a local village that was out of their site line during the battle. I could tell that day still stung in his memories.
Pops then shared with me the story of the first time Jack went to the Vietnam wall. It was in 1997 while I was engaged to Wendy. Their family was in D.C. for a family reunion. While they were driving to the wall Pops asked Uncle Jack how long it had been since he had been there. He answered, “Never.” The surprising thing about that answer is that Uncle Jack had lived in D.C. for many years.
Pops told me that when they got there Jack began to walk down that wall. There was one particular spot that he stopped and got very quiet. I do not know what that spot represents to him, but since the wall is in the chronological order of the war, I would imagine it represents one really bad day. I am sure Uncle Jack had many of those as an officer. I am sure there are names on that wall that he had command over. I would imagine that those names are difficult to read and the memories are not easy to bear.
Why do I share you these stories? I learned something from Uncle Jack that he does not even know. I was not even there to see it. I learned this. Freedom is expensive. It costs more than most of us could ever imagine. Some of you, men and women who have fought for it, understand it better than others.
No freedom is free. Our spiritual freedom carried a great price. Jesus said, “I have come not to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” It is also said in God’s Word about us, “You are no longer your own. You have been bought with a price.”
If Jesus is our Lord, we are free. We must always remember, however, that our freedom was not free. It carried a great price.
So, today, to our veterans, we say, “THANK YOU!” I personally want to say Thank you to Uncle Jack and his son-in-law Louis, and Louis’ son, Matthew. These 3 generations have bravely served in the Marine Corps and all during times of war. Thank you for showing me what freedom costs. Thank you for showing us how to be willing to pay the price, not just for your own freedom, but for the freedom of the Vietnamese and the Iraqi people. You – and the others who have served like you – have taught us much.
Also, today, tell Jesus “THANK YOU!” He, too saw a people that were not his people, and he paid the ultimate price for their freedom.