“Washington Crossing the Delaware”
Growing up in Colorado, Memorial Day weekend was a time for barbecuing chicken, enjoying potato salad, and eating homemade peach ice cream. It was also a time to visit the graveside of my grandmother and other distant relatives. As a kid, it was a fun weekend that included great food and lots of family activity.
Memorial Day commemorates USA men and women who died while serving in military service. Through the years its original meaning, beyond parades or picnics, has lost its punch due in part to American disdain for the last few wars–from Viet Nam and after.
And I agree in part: we should hate war, but sometimes we are called to war. And I don’t believe there will be ultimate peace in this life or “peaceful” agreements until all peoples and nations acknowledge the lordship of Jesus Christ.
Still it is so easy to criticize and take for granted the freedoms we enjoy and the price it cost… someone at sometime…
My husband and I travel internationally extensively, and many of our trips are to third-world countries where freedoms are few and development, literacy, and education slim. It is on those trips, that I feel the deepest gratitude for my homeland and a broad sense of patriotism.
I will never forget our first trip to a Communist country. We traveled through Romania, Yugoslavia, and Hungary while they were still Eastern-Bloc countries. I kept asking myself why the people didn’t rise up and rebel against the totalitarian government. They were so afraid and oppressed. Their spirits were broken.
We met with believers in Romania. They changed their home-church meetings weekly, so the KGB would not figure out that they were believers and were having secret meetings. They whispered their prayers and sermons, but their faith was full of fire. The laws of the land against religion did not stop them from worshipping or telling others about Christ. They shared the few Bibles they had, and they wrote God’s Word on their hearts in case their Bibles were confiscated! They longed for freedom to worship openly and without restraint.
They would have cut off their arms to enjoy what we have here in this country.
The one beautiful trait that we find consistently in those believers who grew up under the oppression of a totalitarian government is a white-hot faith that is willing to suffer, willing to stay true to God, no matter the consequences. Their faith and dedication to Christ challenges ours each time we see some of our friends in ex-Communist countries now.
Honestly after traveling and seeing the evils of the world, I don’t have much patience with my own countrymen who are always complaining about the government or who have attitudes of entitlement about freedom and liberty. I don’t have patience with American ex-patriots living abroad who bad mouth their supporting homeland… the roots from which they came and are sustained. I want to put them on a plane to Siberia to see the aftermath of Communism or Ethiopia or Sudan to see the results of unstable governments of confusion that bring unjust suffering. And our worst suffering in the states cannot be compared to how much of the world agonizes under oppression, chaos. and poverty today outside of the USA.
I am grateful for those who died to give us a land that is full of liberty and choice. And I believe they were led and enabled by the Spirit of God. No, we are not perfect and some of our influence in the world has been devastating; but we blessed beyond belief. We are so incredibly endowed with abundance and opportunity. Some people in this world have no idea what those two gifts are: abundance and opportunity.
Our spirits are not broken! No matter how much we may not like the current president or the war in Iraq or the “other” political party or some of the decisions that are made… still our spirits are not broken!
And I honor the American Spirit that is still resident within this land. It is that spirit of faith in something better and Someone bigger that moved our forebearers to seek freedom of religion in the first place. That spirit sent them on an adventure that turned into a dream. We are living the dreams of those men and women who never tasted freedom like we do today. American spirit does not understand the word, “no.” It presses on and finds a way and accomplishes impossible things.
Each country has a gift to offer the world… something that God endowed it with to reflect His nature and character. I believe one of our best gifts to the world is American “can-do” spirit. It is creative, innovative, undaunted, unflinching, unrelenting, entrepreneurial, and powerful.
And as we travel, my husband and I always find that spirit alive and bubbling up within us, urging others on to higher and better ground. I am not talking about teaching other nations to be like Americans or to do things the “American way;” I am talking about exemplifying a pioneering spirit that causes us to press on for answers and cures and means and ways and never give up… to find creative solutions… to grow and learn… and when we may lose a battle then to concede with grace and honor and humility.
So on this Memorial Day weekend, I am grateful for all those who bought our freedom. I am grateful for what that freedom means and has instilled in me. And I am eager and generous to share our gift with other peoples and nations.
I for one am proud to see a USA soldier standing next to a tank in Iraq, knowing there is a season to war and a season to come to peace. I believe a little sprinkling of “American can-do spirit” throughout the world is a savory thing.