When I was about 12 I watched the movie “Midway” with my dad. The movie depicted what was, in my opinion, the greatest naval victory of the second World War. After the movie was over my dad looked at me and said, “Those are the guys we owe our freedom to.” I’ve never forgotten his words because he said them with such emotion. He was truly grateful to them. Dad was a navy veteran during World War II serving on the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Helena.
The scenes in the movie depicting ships, planes and guns were really exciting. It’s one of the best war movies ever. The scenes that depicted what happened to our soldiers and sailors as a result of those guns and bombs, however, scared me. It’s a rather graphic movie and seeing the horrific wounds our countrymen had to endure was frightening.
It gave me a greater appreciation of what our servicemen and women go through to protect our freedom. Our soldiers, sailors, and airmen have fought in places like Midway; Guadalcanal; the Ardennes forest in France; the Ashau valley in Vietnam; Inchon, Korea; Bagram, Iraq; Kandahar, Afghanistan; and in battlefields here in our country as well like Lexington and Concorde; Mobile Bay; and Gettysburg. Freedom requires constant defense because there is always someone who wants to take it away.
Psalm 100 encourages us to live with thanksgiving. Verse 4 encourages us to “enter His gates with thanksgiving.” This Psalm was written as a call to worship for the nation of Israel as they entered the temple area for worship. They were thankful because they were the sheep of God’s pasture.
Each one of us has a reason for thanksgiving this Memorial Day. God has blessed us tremendously in this country. We enjoy more prosperity, more freedom, more opportunity, and more justice than any nation in the history of humanity.
The cost of that freedom, however, has been high. Far too often our men and women in uniform have been called to defend us from enemies who would seek to rob us of our freedom. Our country has been shielded by the sacrifice of those who have served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. We should be grateful to God for that sacrifice and we should seek God’s blessing both on them and the families who have had to endure separation from them.
Robert Morton is pastor of First Christian Church in Middlesboro.