Freedom isn’t free.
It’s Memorial Day and, I think, like many, I get a little choked up about remembering people that I’ve never met. Men and women who without concern for self, believed this concept of freedom and liberty were worth sacrificing themselves to champion. Who didn’t recoil at the thought giving their life so that me, a normal girl in Tennessee, can have the choice to get an education, choose a job of my suiting, marry (or not-marry) the person of my choice. Wear clothing of my choice. Drive a car. I can succeed, fail, try hard, win big and not fear speaking up about what I believe.
And I am forever indebted. But I realized that I take this sacrifice for granted, every day.
Over 600,000 people have died in the line of service in the last 100 years, defending my country.
Over 1,100,000 since the inception of America.
Yesterday, back in my hometown, Pastor Reser showed a few clips from the amazing film Saving Private Ryan in the service. If you haven’t seen it, go on Netflix and watch it now. You won’t regret it.
But I keep going back to the line, said by Tom Hanks’ character (John something?), after finding and rescuing Private Ryan from battle in France. His dying words to young Ryan simply said “Earn This”.
And somehow I don’t know if I have. I’ve done my best to love my country, but how does one do that? I hope I defend her when friends who really haven’t traveled complain about our country. Of course she has her faults, but I know that my country is one that I can be proud of. And maybe over the past few weeks of flooding in Nashville I just feel more of a sense of community- that I live where people put other people first. That we have government groups that help those in need. That we are encouraged to create businesses and non-profits that can help the economy and help build revenues to support programs of our choosing.
What can I do to earn the deaths of 1,100,000 people?
I think just by enjoying each day. By helping someone in need. By remembering that I use more water in 1 shower than the majority of the world uses in a day. By recycling. Planting some flowers or picking up trash. By going to support a great Thai food at a restaurant started by immigrants who came to this country to start a new life. Using my freedom of career to create or support something that will make a positive change in the world.
And maybe It just means thanking the soldier in the airport for his choice to defend my rights as a woman to have a career and an education. That I don’t have to fear walking outside alone at the risk of being raped or beaten by rebels who see women as property, not people.
“Earn this” he said to the Private. I hope that I can remember that my thoughts and attitude need to be in thanksgiving to so many who gave so much. Thank you to all who have served and who are serving in the military. You are appreciated, and today, on Memorial day – we salute you.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay done his life for his friends.” – Jesus (John 15:13)