The crowd was completely silent as the man made his way to the front. He didn’t run or skip. He didn’t walk with confidence or trepidation. Instead, he used his gloved hands to slowly push his wheelchair up the aisle. A small flag with the word ‘Veteran’ was draped over the back of his chair. As he reached the front, he turned his chair around to face the audience. A tear came to his eye as he looked at the crimson casket next to him, clothed in the majestic colors of the American Flag. There was no microphone for him to speak in to, but he didn’t need it. The hush that settled over the room made it possible for even the faintest of whispers to be heard.
“We are here today to celebrate two lives. The first is the life of Private Davidson. He loved God and his country. He treated his family with a respect that no one really deserves, always showing grace and understanding. He died selflessly, giving his life so that his comrades could live to fight another day.
“The other lives that must be celebrated are those of the people here in this room. You see, he didn’t die because he wanted to. He didn’t die for an idea or belief. He died for you. He died for me.
“And as the recipients of his sacrifice, we have a responsibility to live a life worthy of that sacrifice; to give to others as he gave to us, to honor his death with our lives. Private Davidson was a good soldier, but he was a better son.”
Much like this father’s moving address at his son’s funeral, he have a responsibility to those who have given their lives for us. Today is not a day to gripe about gun laws or whatever cause you are taking up, it is a day to remember those whose lives were sacrificed so that you can enjoy the freedom to complain.
But like the father in the story, there is another sacrifice that we should remember on this day. For on another day, two thousand years ago, a man left his home and came to a far-away place, in order to bring freedom to those who were enslaved. But instead of being welcomed with opened arms, he was rejected and threatened. Undeterred, he kept to his mission, showing compassion to those who wanted him gone.
In the end, the only way to secure freedom was to pay the ultimate price. He died so that we could be free. And like our soldiers today, he didn’t sacrifice himself for a country, or a set of ideals, or for religious standards. He gave his life for us. And as a result of that sacrifice, we have a responsibility to live lives that are worthy of that sacrifice. We need to love others as he did. We need to obey the commands that he gave. We need to always remember that, without that ultimate sacrifice on the cross, we would not, could not, be free today.