Memorial Day

flag off shed

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln’s speech given on November 19, 1863 at Gettysburg to honor the dead of both the North and South of the great Civil war which eventually produced 600,000 deaths…far greater than any other war we have fought and died for.

I have felt an impulse to write sometime significant about this American Memorial Day. I recognize that many countries have their own version of a memorial day which allows them to ponder and honor the sacrifices of past and present soldiers, diplomats and brave citizens. I came across President Ronald Reagan’s famous speech which reignited a patriotic pride in Americans (given in 1986, and which addressed many conflicts including Vietnam). However, when I recalled Mr. Lincoln’s speech and was reminded of Martin Luther King’s, ” I Have a Dream” speech, I came to realize that these speeches can speak louder and more authoritative than any prose I could write. This brief summary is not about politics or right and wrong, nor even war itself. It is about those brave men and women in America, and throughout the world who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom-either from an internal oppressor or and external oppressor…and continue to do so. Also, this is not a flag waving-in-your-face post about how great America is. We have many faults and a history of violence, yet we have always retained the good and decent things in life which have made America a beacon to others for so many years. May she ever remain so. 

 Blessings to all this Memorial Day.

Let Freedom Ring

“My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father’s died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountain side, let freedom ring”.Old Glory

Samuel Francis Smith wrote the lyrics to this song in 1831. It later became known as America and was one of several national anthems for a short while. The melody came from Thomas Arne of England where the tune was created for the queen. In 1963, Martin Luther King gave his famously inspired speech, I Have A Dream, wherein he reminded us to let freedom ring amidst a backdrop of racial inequality and segregation. Dr. King eventually paid the ultimate price for the freedom he dreamed about. So have many others.

There is a saying that goes like this, ” Freedom is a luxury not everyone can afford “. In America we state our freedoms as rights and not privileges of the few. How blessed we are to enjoy such liberties. We are free to worship, vote, protest, write whatever we want, say whatever we want, and pretty much do whatever we want (within reason and the context of the law). We are free to think, to achieve, and simply to be.

Thomas Campbell reminds us of the cost of liberty when he wrote, ” The patriot’s blood is the seed of Freedom’s tree “. Since the birth of our nation to the present, Americans have shed their blood for freedom’s sake…for you and for me. Whether you hop in your car on a whim and drive across the great expanse to see the waves crash against the shoreline or sit in a lawn chair sipping a glass of iced tea after you just mowed the grass of your own lawn-these are fruits of freedom we seldom consider as such. But they are fruits of the most precious kind because they involve a personal sense of well-being that oppression can never provide. We enjoy what others have fought for.7-3-14 038

So, as we celebrate this Fourth of July, our Independence Day, let us pause and consider the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our benefit. Generations past, present and future are all recipients of other’s heroic deeds. Whether on the home front or the front lines, sacrifices have been, and are being made. We can all do little things to express our gratitude for the defenders of our liberties: hug a vet, shake the hand of a soldier, assist those left behind, encourage the distressed.

Inscribed on the Liberty Bell is a quote from the Bible, Leviticus 25:10, which states,  Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof . May we be so bold to proclaim and defend our freedoms, for future generations are depending on us to do so until they can take up the mantel. Sometimes this means going to war. It also means to fight for our constitutional rights which are periodically attacked from forces within. One thing is certain; anyone who has been deprived of personal freedoms cherishes them. They will fight to keep them, and not simply for themselves, but for the sake of their neighbors, as well. Defenders of freedom aren’t selfish.

Let freedom ring loud and clear…I like the sound of that. It reminds me of WW II movies when towns were liberated from a sinister enemy and the church bells would ring and ring in celebration of regaining lost freedom. I thank God for living in a country where freedoms abound. If you do not know such liberty, may you find freedom from above where no enemy can steal your soul even though you may not be allowed to speak your heart. Let freedom ring!



Some people have a song, you know? They are the sweet ones, the talented ones, the sensitive ones. Sometimes, they are even the strong ones. Their songs burst forth as the brilliant rays of a majestic sunrise peaking over the horizon. Their songs are loud and clear and, oh, so wonderful to behold.

I just listened to some songs from a Rich Mullins CD. He had a song, and he shared that song through music. The words he penned, and the melodies he created bring glory to God and cause the listener to take stock in his own life. Of course, there are all types of songs…many of them aren’t music at all. There are songs of encouragement from special people who have overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. I had a friend who lived out his song even though he was a paraplegic. He was an artist and shining star of encouragement. Others have songs that inspire through art, prose, dance and athletics. Martin Luther, and Martin Luther King had beautiful songs; similar names and similar messages, but ‘sung’ at different times and in different ways. Yes, there are many types of songs, and they are all unmistakable when seen or heard. Songs are much more than mere talent, though. The two are not to be confused.

I believe I have a song to share, but I can’t seem to proclaim it. Sometimes, I can crack open the door so my song seeps out. Occasionally, some hear my song, but mostly just I do. And God does. I contemplate what it is that holds me back from flinging the door to my heart wide open so my song will burst forth. I sabotage my efforts by allowing the trivial to replace the important. The temporal overcomes the eternal much too often. Sometimes difficult circumstances consume all of my energy. It is frustrating. I have identified some of the distractions, and am striving to overcome them. No doubt, there are a few I am not even aware of. Perhaps sharing my angst will assist me in opening the door.

Oh, how I want my song to be pure and uninhibited-to be free. I desperately want my song to be a blessing to others. I believe our songs are not about us; not really. We are given these songs to guide and encourage and uplift others, especially those who don’t have a song, but need one. Our songs are gifts from a gracious God who gave us the greatest song ever through the life, death and resurrection of His son, Jesus Christ. Forget religion and consider the man. Jesus came into this world-not because He had to, but because He wanted to…He needed to…for us. While He walked upon the soil of a turbulent Middle East. He taught us how to pray, and how to graciously treat one another. He taught us how to worship a Holy God, and to care for the less fortunate. Jesus did more than teach-He redeemed.

What or whom did Jesus redeem? God’s greatest creation and joy: His children. The need for redemption came as a result of our self-righteousness and pride. We needed to be rescued, and that is exactly what Jesus did. Many find this unbelievable or offensive. I find it remarkable. So amazed am I that He would suffer and die so that I could spend eternity with Him and the Father, simply blows me away. I could never deserve such an honor nor could I ever earn it. It had to be given to me by the only One who had the authority and power to do so.

My song-our songs- are like gifts of gratitude to the One who created us and rescued us from a life of meaninglessness. When I started to write this piece, I had no idea where I was going. I didn’t plan on talking about God or Christ or salvation, but that is where my mind was lead. I feel a bit more at ease after penning these thoughts. Maybe, I just learned a little more about my song. Maybe.

And, maybe I will begin to remove the hinges from the door that I can’t seem to open very wide, and instead, remove it. Why should the door exist, anyway. Who do I want to keep out, and why do I want to stay in? To be honest, I don’t know. However, I seek to find out. What of your song? Will you share it? Will you remove the door (at least start by opening it)? Others near and far need to hear and see and feel your song. I have never been disappointed in another’s song when I knew it was genuine and selflessly given. That is how I want my song to be- an offering of love. The Lord knows, and we all know, that our world could use a heap more of unconditional love. Please join me. I want to hear your songs as much as I want mine to be heard. Enough said.