Scripture: Joshua 4:4-7
So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.
This Memorial Day I am reminded of Joshua crossing the river to the Promised Land. Joshua was concerned that Israel would forget what the Lord did for them that day and so he instructs 12 men to gather 12 stones, one for each tribe of Israel, and build a monument. This monument would stand as reminder for all time of what the Lord had done. Joshua understood the need to hold onto the meaning of sacrifice and the good Lord who brought them all out of slavery by His mighty arm.
A couple of weeks ago I went and picked up my brother at the airport. I had not noticed it before, but Terminal 1 and 2 at MSP is right near the Fort Snelling National Cemetery. I marveled as I drove past...as far as I could see, rows and rows of markers, all lined up perfectly. I realized that each marker...each stone set in the ground represented one dead soldier. One person who died either in battle or after they had served their country in the military...each one stood as a remembrance of sacrifice. Each one stood as a reminder that freedom comes with a cost. Our great nation would not exist if there were not such men and women willing to pay the ultimate cost for their country. I was humbled and thankful.
And yet I wonder. This Memorial Day how many people remember the sacrifice that was made...and is still being made across this whole world. Where ever there is conflict; where ever American troops are stationed these sacrifices are continuing to be made on our behalf. How many people really understand? How many people just treat this day as a day off from work...an extended 3 day weekend? A day just to go out and cook something on the grill or just be lazy and lay around doing very little?
Everyone may not be near a National Cemetery that they can take their family too...but everyone is near a cemetery and I bet that cemetery has fallen soldiers who are buried there. Bring your family there and when one of your children ask you, "What do these stones mean?"...tell them! Tell them with pride that these stones represent the fallen, but never forgotten. They represent the very best of this great country and what we stand for. Freedom in its essence. Freedom that we want to give to others in this world. Freedom to worship, for pursuit of happiness. God-given and God-Sustained rights that if not granted result in enslavement of the very worse kind...of the human soul and potential.
So Go. Go now and honor those who have died for freedom.