Today, the last Monday of May is set aside every year to remember all of the men and women who serve and protect all of us from any danger. Those in our armed forces who have served in the past or present. Those who have come back from conflict and those who have paid the ultimate price in service to protect those freedoms which all of us so often take for granted. Not only those in the 5 main branches of our armed forces but also those who are fire fighters, police officers, or anyone who may sacrifice their very lives to fight for ideals which this country was based upon. I can think of no more worthy calling in which one is called to “Lay down his life for a friend.” Not only for a friend but for the millions of people he/she has never seen. Like Christ, himself, they are willing to pay the price so that we might live not only for ourselves but for each other. Yes, we do fall short of that last bit. We stumble and fall (literally and figuratively) but through the grace of God we are given the opportunity to rise above those failings.
Although our own local parade and cemetery memorial was transferred to the high school, I can well remember the marching to the site, the solemn cadence on the rim of the snare drum as the procession entered the graveyard, the presentation of the flowers by the children, the address delivered by a local pastor, the salute to the fallen by the Legion, and finally the playing of taps by two echoing trumpeteers. This morning on my town’s “You Know You Are From…” facebook page, one of our former residents shared a poem which is still recited annually:
In Flanders Field
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
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.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
I pray that all of us took a moment today to remember all of those special individuals who were not able to come to our cemeteries, be able to share the first BBQ of the summer season, or even be eaten alive by the pesky mosquitos that seem to be more abundant earlier this year. May we be vigilantly grateful that they are protecting us and those freedoms we hold dear. And may we never forget those who have sacrificed their very lives in defense of each of us.