The Thanks of a Grateful Nation
by: Richard Mansel
Memorials are common to the history of men. Wars, tragedies, presidents, and leaders of all kinds are marked by memorials that dot the landscape.
Our freedom was secured by those who spilled blood, sweat, and tears in our nation’s wars. Their sacrifices on foreign fields should give us pause as we contemplate their selflessness. They deserve the gratitude of a thankful nation eager to remain free. A nation that vows never to forget its fallen heroes or forsake their vision.
The group Tom Brokaw called, “The Greatest Generation,” endured the horrors of World War 2, and we mourn because thousands pass from this life every month. With them goes the courage, resolve, and ingenuity that helped build a nation.
Ronald Reagan once made a speech and then opened the floor to questions. One young man stood and asked,
“How can you understand our generation when you are so much older than we are? I mean, we have televisions, jet airplanes, space ships and many other technologies. You didn’t have any of those when you were our age. So, how can you know what it is like in our generation?” Reagan politely said, “You’re right. We didn’t have those things when I was your age. We were too busy inventing them.”
This story illustrates the admiration that we should have for these men and women. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.” Tom Brokaw said:
“If we are to heed the past to prepare for the future, we should listen to these quiet voices of a generation that speak to us of duty and honor, sacrifice and accomplishment. I hope more of their stories will be preserved and cherished as reminders of all that we owe them and all that we can learn from them.”
Those of us who are younger need to listen to our elders. They have much to say that is valuable. Their stories are a part of our legacy on this earth.
Joshua was told by God to place stones in the midst of the Jordan River as a memorial. They would be “a sign among you when your children ask in time to come saying, ‘What do these stones mean?’” They were to commemorate God parting the Jordan River so the priests carrying the ark of the covenant could pass by on dry land (Joshua 3:14-Joshua 4:7).
Christians must remember those who have gone before them. Those who have labored to preach the gospel and have given their lives for the greatest cause ever created. They hold no hallowed memorials, no manicured cemeteries and no honored days.
Yet, their sacrifices are no less important than those whose flags waved for their country. Their banners were raised for God, and his cause filled their veins. They knew that the only memorial that mattered was the Lord’s Supper and the memory of the cross of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:23-34).
Today, the church needs such fierce loyalty to truth and the gospel call. When Joshua and the people of God placed the memorial stones in the Jordan, their enemies heard of their efforts and their “hearts melted” and “there was no spirit in them any longer” (Joshua 5:1).
Let us all lift high the sword of the Spirit and fight the good fight(Ephesians 6:10-20). And like Winston Churchill before us, we must “never surrender.”