But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.” John 14:26
It was more than the title for a movie. One by one they are slipping away. Who? That generation newsman and author Tom Brokaw called the greatest generation. This generation was born and lived through the Great Depression. Their words and testimonies fill pages and pages of books and blogs. Words like, “we were poor but didn’t know it” or like “we had nothing but each other…and that was more than enough” ring of their wisdom and courage.
But it would seem that living and surviving the great depression was just a warmup for their finest hour…that would begin with the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. That day, the day that President Franklin Roosevelt said, “would live in infamy,” marked the start of our country’s direct involvement in World War II. Before it was all over, almost four years later, America would see 1,076,245 causalities. That number includes 291,557 combat dead, 113,842 who died from other causes and 670,840 wounded.
Last Memorial Day I heard a phrase I had heard before but this time it seemed to shout at me. It simply said, “Freedom isn’t free.” As I listened that day, I was freshly amazed at this generation of men and women, 16.7 million of them, who served during World War II. They marched off, self-forgotten, to strange lands and places and many of them would never come home. Like I said, I was amazed.
Today, June 6th, 2022, is the 78th anniversary of what has been called, “The Longest Day.” It was the day that thousands of soldiers, airmen and sailors, with thousands of ships and planes invaded Normandy, France to begin the retaking of Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany and the Axis powers. The courage of those men who stormed those beaches is legendary. Imagine with me small boats, called Higgins boats, riding the waves towards Normandy with shells exploding all around. Imagine with me seeing many, too many, of these boats literally disappearing after taking a direct hit from enemy shells. Imagine knowing that each of these boats carried several dozen men. Sacrifice. Courage. Amazing.
There probably are not words that can describe that day. Films like, “The Longest Day” and “Saving Private Ryan” have tried to tell the story but though their efforts are valiant they always fall short. That day, 6,603 Americans were killed, missing, or wounded. Imagine again, as officers knocked on doors and telegrams arrived, “The Defense Department regrets to inform you…” Freedom truly isn’t free. I know we know but I only hope we won’t forget. Yet in most minds, this observance of “The Longest Day” won’t garner a passing thought.
When the children of Israel of Old Testament fame were crossing over into the Promised Land, they were told to take twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan River. The sole purpose of these stones was to remind them of the miracle and the day. That way when years later and their memories were foggy, they had the stones to remind them. I’m not sure what stone of reminder we need but it might be as simple as a visit to the cemetery and taking the time to READ the markers and stones of those who served. It might be as simple as taking your kids with you to show them and teach them about sacrifice and courage. Unfortunately, it may not be taught any place else.
December 7, 1941. June 6, 1944. These are only two dates of many that are worthy of remembrance…but they are a start. Jesus knew we would need help remembering about the things of God. That is why He said, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.” And who knows, perhaps that same Holy Spirit will help us remember to be grateful for the sacrifice others have made on our behalf. In fact, I’m sure He will help because that is what He does best…help. Like everything else, I’m sure, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne