This is my message delivered at local cemeteries for Memorial Day observances.
Jesus says to His disciples in St. Matthew 5:14-16: You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
As we gather together to mark this Memorial Day, there is no shortage of advice on how to best remember the sacrifices that have been made, particularly on the battlefield, by countless men and women over the course of the history of this country. Much of the advice centers around the simple and yet profound gesture of thanking those who have served. A most worthy action to be sure, and one that can be done with the utmost of ease.
And yet, while certainly significant, there is in fact more that can be done, not just today, but every day of the year.
For aside from thanking those who have served, the next highest compliment one can pay is by taking advantage of the freedoms that those who have fought and died have secured. By holding elected office, by volunteering in the community, by voting, by attending worship on a regular basis, by bringing children up in a godly manner, by letting your light shine before others; you are honoring those who have served in the simple act of exercising those freedoms that have been secured.
For to neglect those freedoms, to extinguish that light, is to neglect those who have fought and died to defend them. Freedoms are never free, and need to regularly be secured through legislation at the state and federal level, through court decisions, and even with the shedding of blood. To not exercise those freedoms, to ignore them, is to say that they are not important, and that they were never worth fighting for in the first place.
This Memorial Day, take a moment to reflect on those freedoms that have been secured for you. Reflect on how in the coming weeks and months, you can let your light shine before others by exercising those freedoms in your homes, in your communities, and in your own lives. For when you take advantage of these hard earned freedoms, then in the future, when you thank those who have served, you will truly understand the value of what they have secured for you, and for future generations.