In case you are wondering why I am not at the Masses this weekend, I am down in Burlington, NC officiating at the wedding of my oldest niece, Sydney. All of my immediate family will be there. After us not being able to all get together in years, we have now done so two years in a row; last June for my installation as Pastor, and now for Sydney and Chris’ wedding.
Since I cannot do so in person, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the brave women and men that we recall this weekend. While Memorial Day may be the beginning of summer barbeque season, and a sign that school is almost out for the year, the real reason for Memorial Day is to remember our fallen soldiers, sailors, and marines who made the ultimate sacrifice defending our way of life.
The United States is a rather unique county. We are not composed of peoples from the same ethnic groups. We did not develop around a king or a group of nobles. Rather the United States developed around a group of ideals, namely, that all people are endowed by God with certain inalienable rights, among them the rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. While there are many countries in the world today that also embrace those democratic, republican ideals, they all evolved to embrace them, often from some form of monarchy.
The ideals of the United States revolve around two principles. First, there are certain rights that belong to all people just because they exist. We do not believe that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are only rights of Americans. Rather, we believe that everyone, no matter which country they come from have those rights. They exist because God created each of us in His Image and Likeness, so everyone has a basic dignity. The second key principle of the United States is self-governance. While everyone have the same basic rights, we believe that peoples have the right to decide for themselves which form of government, and which policies those governments adopt, will best secure those inalienable rights.
When we are at our best as a nation, we put those two principles at the center of our domestic and foreign policies. Sadly, there have been times when those values, those principles have been threatened, and we have had to resort to war. War is never a good thing. At times it might be just and even necessary, but it is never a good thing. Too many of our men and women in our Armed Forces have had to fight to defend the principles of American life; the inalienable rights of all people, and the right to self-governance. They were brave and honorable, and we owe them a debt of gratitude which really can never be repaid.
We should enjoy our barbecues and time with family and friends this weekend, but let’s take the time to say a prayer for the women and men that we honor this weekend. And let us appreciate that for which they gave up their lives. God Bless America!