Like most Americans, I have a number of relatives who have served in our nation’s wars of the last century. By God’s grace, none of my relatives died in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, or the Gulf War (though a great uncle took his life following World War II because of trauma related to his surviving Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor). But millions of Americans have died in wars, from the Revolutionary War to the current War on Terror (yes, I think there is still a War on Terror). I remain very thankful for the sacrifice of these brave men and women and am grateful that we have a national holiday to commemorate those who have given their lives in defense of our nation–and often in defense of others who could not fully defend themselves.
As you go about your Memorial Day activities, I would urge you to take a moment and read Julie Gunlock’s essay at National Review titled “Honoring American Heroes.” Gunlock offers a fine historical introduction to the holiday offers some helpful suggestions for how to approriately honor America’s fallen solidiers. And for those who wince at the idea that Christians should be patriotic, I would point you to David Gushie’s thoughtful article “What’s Right About Patriotism,” which was published in Christianity Today a couple of years ago.