As we commemorate Memorial Day 2017 this weekend and on Monday there is no more appropriate picture to represent it's solemn nature than the United States Military Cemetery in the Normandy region of France which overlooks the site of D-Day, the greatest landing of American and Allied forces ever assembled for an invasion. It's a most impressive and emotional site that every American who has the opportunity should visit. We lost several thousand brave soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines during that dramatic and most critical "Longest Day" battle and it took nearly twenty-four hours from it's start to realize that America and her allies would be successful. But as deadly as it was, those who were buried here represent only a few of the hundreds of thousands who have died giving their lives that America may remain free.
Those who gave the ultimate sacrifice now cover four centuries beginning with the Revolutionary War and they made household names of places both in America and in many far distant places that we would otherwise likely not have found noteworthy. They include Valley Forge and Yorktown, Antietam and Gettysburg, San Juan Hill, Verdun, the Ardennes and Normandy, Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima, Inchon and the Chosen Reservoir, Chu Lai, the Aschau Valley, Fallujah and Marjah, just to name a few. In cold and snow; rain, oppressive heat and mud conditions; over desert, mountains, seas, swamps and plains as well as all hours of daylight and darkness, American military service members have fought in the most demanding situations against terrible odds, and the toll on life has been great. But those who died that others might live accepted the danger, challenge and fate that their task brought to them. And we who live and enjoy the fruits of living in the greatest nation on earth owe an unending debt of gratitude to those who never made it home.
Memorial Day is a day when we must honor those who gave their life for us. It's the least we can do and, if you are a parent or grandparent, it's a good time to explain to your children what these brave souls did for us and what it means to be free. So take in a parade or a special ceremony, visit a veteran's cemetery, fly your flag high at home and above all, take time to thank God for the gift that they gave. There is truly no greater gift that a person can give than to give up their life for their countrymen. May God give them peace in rest and may their surviving family members ever be proud of what they did for all of us. And may we never forget them.
Dear Lord: On this special weekend we thank you for the courage, bravery and ultimate sacrifice that so many gave that others might live free. We are truly blessed to live in a land where we have such brave and honorable men and women and let us never forget what they did. And may we as a nation vow to work hard for peace, but remember that under certain conditions we have no alternative but to fight for what we know is right. We ask in Jesus' name, Amen.