The aged veterans sit and tell stories, their old uniforms bulging at the seams. Their minds and scars never forget where they have been, the wars they have lived.
After hours of laughing and crying, the men file out to their cars. Henry shakes their hands and exchanges hugs and promises to keep in touch. Their annual Memorial Day event lies dormant for another year. None of them knew who would be alive for the next meeting.
Henry walks to his aging Chevrolet and looks down the street at the homes and people grilling, drinking and laughing. He removes his Army jacket and enters his vehicle. Driving past the revelers, his eye catches all the Memorial Day ads and the people coming out of restaurants in swimwear.
Henry drives to the cemetery, to the corner reserved for veterans. As he walks to the grave markers, he sees no one. He scans the grounds for any fresh flowers and sees none. The grass under his feet is several inches high and obviously neglected by the groundskeepers.
He begins to cry anew that his beloved Memorial Day is becoming a stranger to his country. The nation celebrates those who died for them by shopping and swimming. They care more for beaches and burgers than the blood and broken lives of heroes.
He understands that people can only do these things because they are free and they are, in a way, an expression of thanks. Yet, they are still somewhat hollow.
Soon all of his generation, who persisted in keeping these memories before the public, will pass from this life. Who will persist in reminding the public of their sacrifices?
Henry pulled out his pocket Bible, opening it to Joshua 4:1-9 and wondered if future generations would ask what these stones meant. Will they have a grasp of what the words meant on the grave markers? Will they honor the memorials?
Would God’s people forget about those who made their religious freedoms possible? Would they just think that they always existed? If not, how would they hold on to them, if they never realized how valuable they were?
Religious freedoms in a sinful world are not a birthright, but secured by blood. Yet, they are, to many, like faded photographs, tossed into the landfill with the rest of the discarded charcoal.
If we see them as common and ordinary, Satan will be happy to negotiate them away for worthless trinkets and laugh at our ignorance, as we walk away, pretending we are enlightened.