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Posts Tagged ‘doing right things’

parents teachingOn Memorial Day, we remember the men and women who died serving their country. With patriotic music in the background, we talk about them. We praise them. We applaud them. And then we return to life as usual.

We talk about their brave deeds. We praise them for their courage. We applaud their service. And then we return to the kind of lives that can only be lived because those men and women invested everything they had.

In my family, men left home to face America’s enemies in Europe, the Pacific islands, the jungles of Vietnam, and the mountains of Afghanistan. If they did not sacrifice their physical life, they certainly sacrificed their youth, their innocence, and relationships with loved ones. Why did they do it? Because they vowed to defend life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

On Memorial Day, we remember the heroes who looked in the face of evil and dared to triumph. Their lives were made difficult. There was pain. They suffered physically, psychologically, and spiritually. If they returned home, their lives were forever changed. They invested a great deal so that we might have a safer and more hopeful future.

And so we honor them with our words. But… do we really honor them with our actions? Do we honor them by raising the standards of our behavior and being better people?

A very high price has been paid by those who believed in the sanctity of life, marriage, family, honest labor, and freedom of speech and religion. But what is the price we are willing to pay? Are we willing to sacrifice for our children and generations of children?

Do we expect to receive prosperity, blessings, and personal freedom but invest very little ourselves?

Do we assume that we will always have freedom, or do we stand guard knowing that evil is always prepared to steal, kill, and destroy?

Do the choices that we make in our daily lives honor the ones who made those choices possible?

One of my uncles endured the hell of WWII in the Pacific islands. He lost the vibrancy of his boyhood. At age 97, he is still tortured by nightmares. He said to me, “When I look around and see the way so many Americans choose to live, I wonder if what I did for my country really matters.”

How do I respond? Does my life show that the price paid by my uncle really matters?

How do any of us respond? Do our attitudes and behavior show gratefulness?

Are we willing to speak against things that are wrong so that our children and grandchildren will not lose the freedom to do things that are right?

Memorial Day gives us opportunity to remember the sacrifices of others, but it is also an opportunity to ask ourselves: What is our role? What noble part do we play as fathers, mothers, grandparents, neighbors, workers, and citizens in a very blessed nation? In what way are we willing to respect life, defend liberty, and pursue the happiness that comes from helping others as much as we help ourselves?

Men and women who put on the uniform of their country are heroes, but I think they want us to be heroes, too. Heroes are soldiers in foxholes, but heroes are also moms and dads who maintain the fortification of their homes. Heroes are public servants who remain humble on the front lines of government. Heroes are teachers, doctors, lawyers, pastors, farmers, and tradesmen who stand at their posts without compromise of truth. Heroes are men and women who persevere with goodness and hope in the trenches of daily life.

It is not Hollywood or Wall Street or even the White House that shapes this country. It is you and me. In one way or another, we shape our families, neighborhoods, and communities by what we choose to do… or not do. I would like to believe that each of us values this “one nation under God” so much that we will choose to do the right things… the hard things… that strengthen America.

Men and women in uniform have believed that this country was worth dying for. I’d like to believe that you and I will not disappoint them.

Memorial Day 2015 at Union Cemetery, Iowa Falls, IA
Address by Linda Bartlett upon request of
the Hyman-Peavey Post 188 of the American Legion
Photo credit: gracefuledblogspot.com

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