Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…

O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain;
for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”

O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine till all success be nobleness and every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years
thine alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea!
Katharine Lee Bates (Lyrics) and Samuel Ward (Melody)

Only in America.

Today is a day we pause to honor and remember those who served and, more particularly, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives so we might live in freedom today.

Memorial Day. Only in America.

I’ve never understood the lack of respect shown by some for those who have sacrificed it all throughout our history, so that we—and they—might live in freedom today. Sadly, you can see it among elected officials at every level around our country, in the halls of Congress, at sporting events, on university campuses, and institutions and businesses, both secular and sacred.

But on this Memorial Day, I pray that we begin to demonstrate a respect and honor for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that they might do so.

That we embrace the words of President Abraham Lincoln, delivered on November 19, 1863 at the dedication of the National Soldiers’ Memorial in Gettysburg, when from the back of a paper bag he read—

“It is rather for us the living to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave their last full measure of devotion…”

So many, for so long, have paid the price for us, beginning at Bunker Hill and Lexington and Concord and down through Valley Forge. They made the first payment for us. And that payment has been kept up-to-date through the Argonne Forest, Normandy, Iwo Jima, Tarawa, Puson and Pork Chop Hill, and across a thousand hills in Southeast Asia, the sands of the Persian Gulf., Iraq and Afghanistan.

They paid the price for us.

And on days like today, we need to remember that.

Some came back from their duty in pieces, on stretchers and crutches, forever scarred and crippled. Many never came back and their bodies now lie beneath row after row-after-row of white crosses at those hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery and thousands of cemeteries across this country and world.

We see what’s happening in various parts of our Country—with a lack of direction, loss of pride in our heritage, a loss of vision of what this Nation was meant to be, and a loss of faith in God. Those who served and came back, and the families of those who didn’t, are asking whether it was worth it to give up their tomorrows so that we could live in freedom today.

And on days like today, in honor and remembrance of them, we must make the answer— yes, by God, it was worth it, and we shall never forget the price you paid for us.

For you see, liberty may be a heritage you and I enjoy—but it is never a gift. It has been paid for at great price.

America will stand, and improve, as a place of liberty and equality, justice and freedom—for everyone—only as long as there are men and women, young people and children, generation after generation, who are willing to pay the price, trust the Lord and to stand up for America.

May God continue to bless the United States of America, as we remember and honor those who have stood in the gap for us so that we might live in freedom today.

In His Name–Scott

Photo: One of the two confirmed photos of Lincoln (center, facing camera) at Gettysburg, taken about noon, just after he arrived and some three hours before his speech.