Veterans Day is, of course, a day to honor those who have served in the Armed Forces, while Memorial Day remembers those who have died in battles for our freedom.
In both cases, the scripture that comes to mind is John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (NIV). Whether a soldier was killed in action or not, the mere fact that he or she was willing to fight for the country demonstrates sacrifice and service like nothing else.
For those of us who have “served” on the home front, or who are too young to enlist, there’s another challenge. This comes from a famous poem written during World War I, “In Flanders Fields” by John McRae:
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.*
The more famous lines from this poem describe the poppies growing on the battlefield, and became the impetus for the paper poppies sold by veterans organizations every year. [Read more.
Yet I believe these lines summarize the entire point of McRae’s poem, and indeed, the point of observing these two holidays. We must remember the reason for their sacrifice and we must “hold high” the torch. Unless we remember the past and fight for freedom, we will lose it.
In the same way, as Christians, we must remember the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross and hold forth the torch of His love. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden….Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.“(Matthew 5:14, 16, NIV).
We have been given the Light for the world in the Person of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. It is up to us to share that Light with those around us.
Thank a veteran today, and hold high the torch of God’s love every day.
* Read the entire poem here