Living to Honor Their Lives

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

Over the past few years, I have tried to be more intentional about remembering the true significance of Memorial Day. While war can be a controversial topic, the willingness of a person to put their life in harm’s way on behalf of another is not. It is the ultimate form of love. In the words of Jesus, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” John 15:13 NIV. This is what we remember on Memorial Day–incredible acts of love on our behalf.

The significance of the these incredible sacrifices became even more real to me when I had the opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery with my grandfather in 2016. Walking through the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery is sobering. To know each grave stone represents the life of someone who was willing to die on my behalf puts life in perspective. That two of the gravestones bear the names of two of my grandfather’s brothers, Claude and Edger, makes it personal. While I never had the opportunity to know Claude and Edger, I live because they were willing to die.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.” This is what I believe our response should be to the sacrifices of Claude, Edger, and the many others who died on our behalf. What is our responsibility? It is to live fully for those who could not, and to, like them, provide the same opportunity to others.

As I have thought about the best way to honor the life and sacrifices of someone who went before me, I have asked myself what their answer would be. How would they say I could best honor them? The conclusion I have come to is to live a full and meaningful life. Think about it. Their loss is a demonstration of how precious life really is. By choosing to live a full and meaningful life, we are recognizing the incredible opportunity we have been afforded. This is even more true when honoring the life of someone who sacrificed their life on behalf of our freedom. What better way to honor them than to fully enjoy the freedom for which they died?

Equally important, we get to provide this same opportunity–the opportunity to live fully–to others. This is what Edger and Claude did for me. Why wouldn’t I do the same for others? Honestly, I cannot think of a better way to live a full and meaningful life. This could take many different forms. For me, it is reminding others of their God-given potential through real opportunity and a reframed identity. It is believing the lie of hopelessness that perpetuates poverty can be overcome by the real power of practical and spiritual hope.

What does it look like for you? What would it mean to live fully? How could you provide the same opportunity to others? I hope you will give these questions some consideration this Memorial Day as we remember those laid down their life on our behalf.

James Belt

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