We observe Memorial Day this coming weekend. By definition, it is a day for remembering those who, as members of our armed forces, gave their lives in the service of our country. Across the years, literally thousands of lives have been given; and thus, there are thousands of “memories”!
Perhaps no other photo of war is more widely known, seen, and remembered as the photo taken by Joe Rosenthal on February 23, 1945. It is without doubt one of the most iconic photographs ever taken as six soldiers raised the American flag on Mt. Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima in the South Pacific. During that 36 day battle, some 26,000 American troops were wounded and some 6,800 lost their lives. A tremendous toll! With each soldier’s passing, there were “memories” for those close to them as family; and they deserve, even decades later, the heartfelt thanks and recognition of the American people as do all soldiers down through our history as a nation.
There has been some debate recently (as noted in the news) about exactly who the soldiers were that raised the flag on Mt. Suribachi. For nearly 70 years, the six men were named and credited with the act, either in the photo’s original taking or in the posed photograph. And there has been little question of who they were. Now with some photographic detail and inquiring minds, there seems to be some debate about one soldier who was credited with being in the picture but might not have been. (While it is interesting reading, I do not have the facts or knowledge to agree or disagree. If you want to “Google” the stories, you can check it out!)
Thinking back to a time more removed than 1945 and to a time when photography was not available to authenticate what took place, I call your attention to another mount, Mount Calvary. On that hill, one man, the God-man Jesus Christ, was raised up on a cross for the freedom of all mankind, not just for a particular country or nation. While we may not have a picture to critique or ponder, we have the overwhelming testimony of Scripture (and history itself) that records the event. Jesus was lifted up to die on a cross, but rose victorious from the grave unlike any other before or after Him. In His death and resurrection, we have victory over death and the grave and we can live in a freedom that can never be taken from us. There is NO debate: Jesus Christ is the only one in the picture and He is the only one who can offer this freedom!
I encourage you on this Memorial Day to remember those who have given their lives in the cause of freedom for our nation. Give thanks for their sacrifice. Perhaps you know someone who has lost a loved one in the Armed Forces, perhaps a family member of your own. Regardless, remember and give thanks. I also encourage you to pause and ask, “Am I living in and enjoying the freedom that Jesus provided for me?” Peter wrote, “He personally carried away our sins in his own body on the cross so we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.” (1 Peter 2:24 NLT)
Remember and live,