A young boy was looking at a series of pictures of people in uniform as he walked down the hallway of church.  Seeing his pastor he asked about the people in the pictures.  The pastor answered: “Those are pictures of people in the Service who have died.” 

The child asked:  “Was it the first service, or the second?”

Memorial Day is coming up in a couple weeks.  It seems like a lot of people confuse Memorial Day, a day that we remember those who have given their lives in the service of the country, with Veteran’s Day (November 11th), a day to acknowledge those who have served/are currently serving. I think it is an important distinction – especially in an age when it seems like we are free to redefine things as we see fit.

All of us who served in the military signed up knowing that we could be required to “make the ultimate sacrifice” for our country – but very few of us actually did it.  Even in the Coast Guard (the “safe” service), there are names that we should know about.  Marines are taught in boot camp (at least I think they still are), about Signalman First Class Douglas Munro, who operated a landing craft during the Battle at Guadalcanal in World War II who saw a large group of Marines pinned down between the enemy and the water.  Munro led his group of landing craft in a rescue mission.  He placed his craft between the gunfire and the Marines as they loaded up on the other boats.  He was credited with saving 300 Marines, though he died during the rescue.  Munro was awarded the Medal of Honor – the only Coast Guard Awardee to this day.

In addition, there are memorials all over the country dedicated to Coasties who have given their lives trying to save others.  Several of those memorials have names of my friends on them.  Though not as famous as SM1 Munro, they are worthy of honor.  Maybe this is why I am sensitive about making the distinction. 

Jesus told us in John 15:13 (ESV) “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”  We are also told in Romans 13:7 (ESV) “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”  Often on memorials they will have the saying; “All gave some, some gave all”.  Those who have given their all are more deserving than those of us who gave some.

When Memorial Day comes, no matter what you are doing, remember those who gave all.  Hopefully there will not be many familiar names on your list.