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What Do We Memorialize?

My birthday is today, on this country's national holiday, "Memorial Day", in which we honor and celebrate those who died in the service of this country. Typically a tag line something like, "we won't forget", or "remembering our fallen heroes", or "who died for the freedoms of this country", (usually meaning freedoms of speech, religion, and oppression from monarchies and dictatorships ... usually not meaning freedom from capitalism, consumerism, and relativism ... but that is another story altogether I suppose) goes along with the holiday spirit.

While I certainly am grateful for the freedoms that I experience everyday in my modern western lifestyle, and by extension I suppose those that died to "set them up" and "protect" them (even some in my own family), and my heart certainly breaks for those that will grow up without a father or mother, or a brother or sister because their lives were lost in battle. But am I grateful for the ones they killed? This is a little bit more tricky. And coming from the perspective of following Jesus, I must say it presents a real quagmire for me. Especially since it can seem like I am blaspheming against the Lord himself if I think anything other than what the mainstream says on this holiday; "everyone who died, died a hero to protect God's nation" (or some version that). But is that really true?

Are we really God's nation?

Where did we get these ideas from exactly? Since when is America God's nation exactly? I wonder who started that idea. When I hear that the "founding fathers" were Christians, it makes me cringe. It is very likely that these people were not actually biblical Christians, but that they founded the country loosely on Judeo-Christian "values". I guess on this holiday, and the day of my physical birth (my "spiritual" day of birth is a different day entirely, but in many ways much more important, and real), I have to ask myself what am I really memorializing, and why? I think it's definitely honorable to be willing to give up your life for the sake of others (though in reality I'm sure motives are often mixed), and is indeed a selfless act worthy of recognition and remembrance, but are we honoring patriotism to our country (which won't be around forever) over the Lordship of Christ and him bringing us into an eternal (and entirely different) nation (Phl 3:20)?

In this "Christian" nation of ours, do we memorialize or commemorate those who were martyred and died for their faith in Jesus, not retaliating as they followed their Lord's example and they continued to spread His gospel message? Is there is a holiday for that? I am not aware of it if there is.

As Christians in America (or Christians anywhere in the world that celebrate memorials), what is it exactly that we are celebrating? Are we celebrating death and those that died fighting for temporary ideals (which don't get me wrong, many of them are good ideals), or are we truly memorializing Jesus who died to offer true life and freedom to the worst of humanity, which is all of us?


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