Saturday, May 28, 2005

They Died For A Flag

Memorial Day began in the 1860's as a way to commemorate those that lost their lives in the Civil War.

My husband wrote an article a few years back that speaks so well to the sacrifice that men were willing to make for something greater than themselves. Here's an excerpt

Civil War history includes heroic feats of bravery as men sought to preserve their unit colors and honor. One such event took place in the Wheatfield at Gettysburg. There, in the heat of battle on July 2nd, 1863, the 4th Michigan was cut to pieces and their colors were lost in hand-to-hand combat. In the ensuing melee, the 4th's commander, twenty-six year old Colonel Harrison Jeffords, lunged to retrieve the colors and was pierced with a mortal bayonet wound. He died the next day.

When I first read that story, I thought, "For a flag? He died to save a piece of cloth that could easily be replaced?" It was not a disrespectful thought but more of a practical one. A flag can be replaced but not a man, especially a high-caliber officer. As I pondered such sacrifice, I came to understand what that flag represented to those men. It represented all the ideals and principles that our country was founded upon, all that it had ever achieved, and the hopes and dreams of generations to come. I came to have a new appreciation of our flag and the sacrifice of those who defended her.
As am mother with two young sons who are thinking of joining the military, I see their sacrifice in a different way than when I read about it in history class. The men and women who fought and are currently fighting for this country are willing to die so that I can enjoy my abundant life. And they left behind mothers and wives who were hoping for their return. Some did but many did not.

My son said to his grandmother one day, "I'm going to be a Marine."

She tried to encourage him to do something else saying that the Marines are the first to go in and the first to die.

He was undeterred, "Grandma, I can die serving God and my country or I can die sitting here on the couch. But if I'm going to die, I'm going to die."

"Greater love has no man than this that he is willing to lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

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