As the daughter of a career naval officer, I grew up around Navy bases. I also grew up in a church-going Christian family. So honoring God and country was part of who I was. It’s still a part of who I am.
I have early memories of watching the Navy marching band parade through the grounds playing Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever”, “Anchors Aweigh”, and other songs I don’t remember the names of. Christmas was a time to load into the car, drive down Battleship Row, and marvel at all the ships decked out in Christmas lights. When my dad coached a team in the baseball league, I accompanied him to practices and games.
While each of these things was fun and interesting, I never lost sight of the fact my dad was a young sailor on duty aboard a ship the morning of December 7, 1941. At his station, he manned a mounted machine gun to repel the attack on Pearl Harbor.
In high school I worked at the Navy Exchange at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. At that time our country was fighting a war in Viet Nam. The memories that stand out above all others of my time there are memories of the wounded medevaced to the hospital.
When we heard the helicopters approach the hospital, those of us in the Exchange ran outside to the heliport. It was sort of like a scene from the TV show M.A.S.H.
We stood at attention in absolute silence to honor the men who sacrificed for our country, as nurses and doctors rushed to the helicopter, loaded the wounded soldiers onto gurneys, and ran them inside for surgery.
No matter how many times I watched that scene repeat itself, I never once took for granted the sacrifice of the men. Some not much older than myself.
As Christians, instead of watching the marching band practice, one day we will join in the heavenly chorus and sing praises to our Lord and King.
We’re told there will be no need for the sun’s bright light because God himself will light up heaven.
His glorious presence will be better than any ships decked out in Christmas lights, don’t you think?
In all of this, we’ll forever be with the Savior who fought and won the Battle against hell, sin, Satan, and death, and rose victorious from the grave.
As Christians, we are on the front lines of battle everyday. We fight on our knees before the Father’s throne. We fight in the trenches where we get battered, wounded, and discouraged. It is in those times we come alongside others, and they come alongside us, to pray, listen, and encourage until, through the Spirit’s power, each of us is strong enough to fight again.
While we spend time honoring our country and the freedoms we hold so dear, let’s never forget to honor God in our words, deeds, and thoughts for who he is and what he has done for us.
And let us remember as Christ-followers what the prophet Micah said God desires from his people. This is all it is: to be fair and just and merciful, and to walk humbly with our God.
That is how we honor God and country best. Amen?
I wish you well.