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At this time each year we celebrate Memorial Day: A time when we visit the graves of departed loved ones. Where did this tradition begin? Why was this day established as a national holiday?
During the War Between the States, some southern women began to decorate the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers who had died in battle. Out of their love and respect has grown this national holiday, celebrated in May of each year. Thus, the real reason for the day is to show respect for those who have defended our liberties. We are to “give honor to whom honor is due” as the Bible states (Romans 13:7). Certainly it is right to show respect to those who have laid down their all to keep our liberties secure.
The most noted speech ever given in honor of the defenders of liberty was by Abraham Lincoln. He spoke these immortal words on Nov. 19, 1863, on the battlefield at Gettysburg where over 50,000 men died in battle. Lincoln said there,
“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
“But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
(Lincoln, Abraham. November 19, 1863, in his Gettysburg Address, commemorating the field where 50,000 men died in the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863. Engraved in stone in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.)
Lincoln was so moved by the sacrifice of the fallen men at Gettysburg that it was there that he committed his life to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior—to be used by Him for the preservation of Liberty in this world.
Are you committed to preserving liberty? Then you, too, must first receive the Author of liberty, Jesus Christ, as your Lord. Only then (once you know internal liberty) will you be able to join in God’s great army of people who are praying and working to preserve external liberty in this world. And, even then, you will need to set aside specific time to educate yourself as to how our Founding Fathers thought, or else you will be a hindrance instead of a help to the cause of liberty. Are you willing to receive Christ as Lord? Are you willing to set aside some time each day to study how our Founders thought?
Think about it; because if you don’t, someone else will do your thinking for you—and for your children! And you won’t like what that brings to you. I’m Don Pinson; this has been Think About It.