Today, we take time to honor our heroes who have given so much so we can live in freedom.
As we think through the past year, our lives have been turned upside-down and inside-out, and our hearts have been broken in many ways.
I think we can all admit that this past year has been difficult. Whether it be a pandemic or something else, nothing brings us closer to our mortality than the death of a loved one or someone close to us.
For years, I have been photographing cemeteries. I am fascinated by the history that lies within the hallowed grounds of a cemetery. Several years ago, I photographed the major memorials in Washington D.C. and Arlington National Cemetery.
As I stood on the hallowed grounds of Arlington, where it is so visible the sacrifice that has been made for our freedom, my heart takes a pause. The men, women, and children who are laid to rest on these grounds represent the scars of war and the scars of freedom.
In his book, On Hallowed Ground, Robert Poole details the coming of age of Arlington National Cemetery. Its roots began near the Civil War, and Lincoln wanted a place for fallen soldiers to rest forever. This was the birthplace of Arlington National Cemetery.
As I walked the grounds of Arlington, there are the famous plots of John F Kennedy, and buried further from the tourist scene are Abraham Lincoln and some of his family. I remember I stumbled upon it accidentally.
For me, the iconic administrative building that houses the words Arlington National Cemetery on a marble wall seemed to draw me into the storied past of all the fallen souls who inhabit Arlington.
In 2016, my aunt passed away and was laid to rest in one of the mausoleums on the grounds of Arlington. As I stepped through the administrative doors and read the words, Arlington National Cemetery, I was struck with so much history. I snapped this picture to remind myself of the history and sacrifice of so many who had gone before me.
Someday soon, my uncle will join his bride in being laid to rest in Arlington, but we must remember that this home is not our “forever” home. Each of us will one day pass from this world into the next – do you know where you will go when you die?
The men and women who faithfully serve our country are our heroes, and many times they give the ultimate sacrifice so that I can live in freedom. You may not agree with the politics of war or whoever is leading the country at a particular time, but one thing we can agree on is men and women are serving our country and are prepared to give the ultimate sacrifice.
In the book of John, Jesus issues this command:
This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. — John 15:12-13
I wonder if I would be willing to give my life for my friends – I would like to think I would. It’s easy for us to love our friends and sacrifice for them, but could you give your life for your enemy or someone you didn’t like?
Not so easy anymore, huh?
Jesus says we are to love others, and we should be prepared to give our lives. The soldiers who have given their lives for me pre-date me by hundreds of years in some cases, but even today, men and women give their lives for us so we can remain in a free world.
They have paid the ultimate price for people they do not even know, and they deserve our gratitude, appreciation, and respect.
Today, say a little prayer for all of our heroes – military and first responders – who dare to go into harm's way for us.
Lord, thank you for the freedom we have in You. Jesus paid the ultimate price for me so that I could live. I ask you to protect our brave men and women in the military and our first responders who serve faithfully. Give them strength, patience, and lots of grace. I ask you to protect them, keep them safe, and bring them home safely to their families. Amen!
Memorial Day Portraits
In this companion piece, I have curated content from my photographic archives to honor those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. You can find this content at https://rockingchairdevotions.com/mdportraits.