By Gerry Wakeland
On Monday May 30th the citizens of the United States will celebrate Memorial Day. As the daughter of military parents and the widow of a US Army veteran, Memorial Day holds a significant place in my heart and mind. Not only is it a time to pay my respects to those who have sacrificed their lives to insure my freedom, but it is a time to remember that the very freedoms we so often take for granted come with a great cost. The reality is freedom is not free.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, came into existence shortly after the Civil War, a war that took the lives of 214, 938 men, where brother fought against brother, father against son, neighbor against neighbor. In 1868, as the nation began to heal from the pain and bitterness of this tragic war they adopted the practice of placing flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers. In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a bill recognizing Memorial Day as an official U.S. holiday.
Since 1775 approximately 2, 852, 901 men and women have given their lives to preserve freedom. They made the ultimate sacrifice. Their families made sacrifices as well.
The Ed Kolle family has always been proud supporters of the military. When Linda was born her father was stationed in New Guinea. She was three years old before her father saw her for the first time. Shortly after she met her soon to be husband, Ed, he was shipped out on the USS Ticonderoga to Southeast Asia. He was gone for six months while Linda remained behind worrying, writing letters, and praying.
Ed served in the U.S. Navy from 1960 until 1970. It was a very tense time as our country fought a difficult war in Viet Nam. “For me my time in the Navy was a rewarding time. Being in the military in my generation was much different than today’s generation.”
Memorial Day brings back a lot of memories. Chante Coleman is the third generation in her family to serve in the armed forces.
“I remember my father talking about my grandfather fighting in the Korean War and then seeing my own father a Marine/Solider, deploy to Africa. Looking back, I recall how hard it was for me to say good-bye to my family as I left for Turkey in my own Air Force uniform. It’s important to remember not just on a single designated day, but every day, how thankful I am for the many good-byes our men/women in uniform have made to their families for me to be able to be with my family.”
Recently Tech Sgt. Joseph Dorroh returned from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan. I venture to say that Sgt. Dorroh saw things that most of us will never see. Every day he put his life on the line, prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to preserve freedom. Here’s what he has to say about what Memorial Day means to him:
“Memorial Day is a time to look back and remember those that came before me and willingly laid down their lives in defense of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. It’s also a reminder of how important it is to take advantage of and appreciate the freedoms and rights we have in this country. Doing so makes the sacrifice of the fallen have purpose.”
Freedom does not only come through military action. In fact, for Christians the greatest freedom we have is freedom in our Lord Jesus Christ, who made the greatest sacrifice ever, giving His life for a world of sinners so that we might live a life of abundance (John 10:10).
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
On Monday May 30th let’s join together as a grateful nation remembering those who gave their lives protecting our freedom and that of thousands of others around the globe. At 3:00 p.m. (local time) let’s pause for a moment of silence to pay our respects and then whisper a prayer of thanksgiving as you remember, freedom is not free.