As I’ve mentioned before, Kevin and I are history buffs and find the WWII era especially fascinating. We have started watching a biopic drama mini-series specifically about the Pacific theater, based on the stories of some of the same men that were featured in Ken Burn’s documentary, The War, which is our all-time favorite. Last night, it suddenly occurred to me how appropriate it was to be watching it during Memorial Day weekend, and it made my interest in their lives even more keen.
I, like most people, think about the sacrifice of those who have served, or are serving, in our armed forces, as we observe Memorial Day. That’s what it’s about, after all. But I think mostly of those who have died, or have lost a loved one, to a war. For my freedom, those men have personified the scripture…
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
But as I watched that drama about men who, in the documentary, had told their own stories from during the war and back at home in the years that followed, I thought about sacrifice differently. Their eyes had seen atrocities that no person should ever have to see. They had discovered the very basest elements of man in themselves, along with the horrors they were actually capable of, and a fundamental shift occurred in every one. Some literally lost their minds and were sent to mental facilities, battling mental instability the rest of their lives. Others fought ghosts in their dreams, and struggled to integrate back into the normalcy of life at home. Alcoholism was rampant, affecting family life and generations to follow.
Without exception, however, they all said that it had been necessary. That they’d do it again because what we have in our country is worth it, and its freedoms, integrity, and preservation should be fought for, no matter the cost. These men, and millions of others like them, willingly sacrificed their lives for you and me. Not just the ones that died but every one, because war doesn’t just take lives; it also wrecks the living.
And they’re still doing it.
Through all the wars that followed, and in preparation for any conflicts to come, men, and now women, willingly sacrifice their lives as they know them, because they have been or will be changed, even if they go on living.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s (normal, everyday) life for one’s friends.
Our country is worth it, yes, but to risk not just your life, but your life is a huge thing. I’m so humbled by the sacrifice.
Thank you to every one of my readers who have served, or have a family member who has served. ALL of you, whether at home or on a front, have sacrificed your normal life so that I could live mine. I will never be able to thank you enough for your sacrifice.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 NIV