On Veterans Day and Memorial Day, the conversation turns to those who’ve served and died for our country. My brother is one of those. He volunteered to join the Army, willingly went to Vietnam at its zenith, and came home different. Poor physical and mental health. Angry and sad from the loss of life and lack of support from our country’s leadership. Unappreciated by the very people who sent him there.
I wince at my own words because I didn’t send him there. I’m just an American who obeys the law, pays taxes and votes in elections. But that makes me part of America and America sent him. On a ‘macro’ level, our nation operates on the world stage – imposing sanctions, negotiating treaties and going to war. But the effects of it’s decisions become ‘micro’ when it’s your son or daughter or brother who picks up a weapon and goes into harm’s way in obedience to the Commander-in-Chief.
Another example of this ‘micro’/’macro’ thing happened when the first man walked on the moon. While it was Neil Armstrong (the ‘micro’) who stepped back off that ladder and said “One small step for man…” it was the ‘macro’ of all Americans who took that step, watched our flag go up and said with pride “We put a man on the moon!”
There’s a parallel with Jesus’ death on the cross on Good Friday. Jesus, the one and only son of God (that’s pretty ‘micro’) chose to give up his ‘micro’ life to pay for the sins of the ‘macro’ of all humanity. My brother could have ‘opted out’ and gone to Canada to avoid making the ‘micro’ sacrifice for his ‘macro’ country. Jesus could have called on His Father, the Almighty God, and avoided the sacrifice of His life and we’d all be toast. Literally.
Good, bad or ‘rained out’, my brother and hundreds of thousands of others went to Vietnam. Few came back as heroes. There were no surprise returns to their hometowns filmed for commercials for national TV. Vietnam vets were ignored and treated with disdain as if the war was their idea.
We’ve matured as a culture now. Whether we agree with the decision to attack the Taliban in Afghanistan or to liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein, we all agree, the men and women who put on the uniform and perform their duty to the United States deserve our gratitude and appreciation.
So as you enjoy this Memorial Day, say a ‘thank you’ to Jesus for the sacrifice he made to give you freedom from sin. If you know a service man or woman, or know the family of a soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, call or write them today and tell them ‘thank you’. If you don’t know one but you’d like to add some joy to the life of an old soldier whose sacrifice for America will never be publicly celebrated, send an email and say ‘thank you’ to my brother Joel at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayer: Jesus, set deep in me a heart of gratitude for the sacrifice you made for me on Good Friday and for the sacrifice made for our country by so many. I thank you for the hope you gave me when you rose from the dead on Easter morning. Because of you, I know there’s a life after this one, and I thank you for making it possible to live in your Presence, now and forever. In your beautiful name I pray. Amen.
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