“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
Memorial Day is observed the last Monday in May each year to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the military. Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice of giving their lives for their country. We spend time reflecting on their service and why we have the freedoms we enjoy. Also, we might consider how we can support and safeguard their grieving families and loved ones who are left behind.
Traditionally, on Memorial Day people visit cemeteries and memorials, and often we place American flags on each grave site. Many persons will fly the flag at their home or business to honor and respect the meaning of this day. This year as our nation and our world battle the unseen foe of COVID-19 in a global pandemic, we are reminded how precious life is and how important it is to pause and remember with thanksgiving for those who fought and died to ensure life and freedom for others.
Sacrifice on behalf of others is at the heart of our Christian faith. In John 15:13 are these words of Jesus, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” We know that doing things for others is a central tenet of belief in God and a core practice of faithful living. We hold those that sacrifice for others as exemplars. One such individual was John Robert Fox, a Second Lieutenant in the 92nd Infantry Division in WWII. During the conflict, he was tasked to stay behind in the small village of Sommocolonia, in Tuscany. The village was overrun by Nazis, and Americans were in retreat. He used his radio to call for artillery fire to be directed at the village in order to give the US forces time to escape. The barrage worked, and later they found his body surrounded by the bodies of over 100 German soldiers, a true hero who gave his life so that others would live.
We worship and serve a Lord and Savior who gave his life for all of us, dying on a cross so that we might live. Jesus willingly gave himself for us. We, as his disciples, are called to live in faith for others. We may never be asked to face death as part of that call, but we can serve others in our daily lives. I encourage all of us to think selflessly, give generously, and offer our best to others so that God is honored in what we say and do. That’s the best way to respect and honor the many sacrifices that have been made on our behalf.