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40711Notes from the Valley: In Remembrance

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  • Stephen Hall
    May 25, 2014
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    Memorial Day 2014
    "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,                 
    I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.
    In Remembrance
    For many, Memorial Day means a long weekend, picnics and parades, and the running of the Indianapolis 500.  According to Webster’s Dictionary, a memorial is something designed or established to serve as a remembrance of a person or an event.  Memorial Day is in fact, an American holiday, designated for remembering and honoring dead servicemen. Those men and women who paid the ultimate price, giving up their lives, so we could enjoy the freedoms we have today.  Freedom of choice; freedom from tyranny and oppression.  In remembering them, I can’t help drawing a parallel between the sacrifices of those heroic men and women and what Jesus did for us.
    According to the biblical account in Genesis, all of us were created to be God’s children.  He walked with our ancestors, Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden.  He spent quality, close, personal time with them until sin required Him to separate from them.  As the result of their sin, we all became captives to the law of sin and death, oppressed by the devil and separated from God.  But God created us to be free.  Captivity is an unnatural state for God’s children.  So Jesus came and sacrificed all He had to set us free again.  He committed the ultimate act of love in the fulfillment of God’s plan“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13 
    I commend to all the reading of two marvelous books by Peter Marshall and David Manuel.  The first is titled, “The Light and the Glory . . .  Did God have a plan for America” and the second, “From Sea to Shining Sea . . . God’s plan for America unfolds.”  The task may seem a bit daunting.  The two books total over 800 pages and contain exhaustive research into original texts covering some four centuries of our nation’s history.  But the effort is very worthwhile to any who are interested in the truth, whether you are a believer or not.  This is highly documented material that will probably never make it into any text approved by the public school system because it so clearly and exhaustively demonstrates God’s hand upon this nation and upon those who have served Him by serving her.  Men and women of deep and abiding faith who gave all they had to break the bonds of tyranny and build a nation where all men could be free.  Free in God’s “new Promised Land.”
    There are men and women who, to this day, follow the example of Christ in laying down their lives so that we can continue to enjoy the blessings of that freedom.  “For God’s call on this country has never been revoked.”  It is those men and women we pause to honor on this Memorial Day. But it is also a time when we should remember, in the modern world, there are still more than a enough tyrants seeking to enslave God’s children.  And as Christians (“imitators of Christ”) we are the ones now called to stand against them as those who went before us have done.
    Among the many benefits of the freedom we enjoy is the opportunity to spend intimate, quality, personal time with God again. To talk with Him, learn from Him, and be comforted and protected by Him.  To be His child again.  To walk with Him in the garden in the cool of the evening and share with Him the excitement and needs of our day.  To feel His pride at our accomplishments and the loving touch of His hand upon our shoulder.  Huddled in a foxhole, trapped in rush hour traffic, on a quiet walk through the woods, or anywhere else you happen to be. You pick the time and place and He’ll be waiting there for you.  All you need to do is ask.  It’s God’s greatest desire that you would ask.  He would like you to remember that above all else on this Memorial Day.
    And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  Luke 22:19
    Your brother and His very grateful child,     
    Memorial Grove
    (Author - Captain John Rasmussen)

    It was raining "cats and dogs" and I was late for physical training. Traffic was backed up at Fort Campbell, Ky., and was moving way too slowly. I was probably going to be late and I was growing more and more impatient. The pace slowed almost to a standstill as I passed Memorial Grove, the site built to honor the soldiers who died in the Gander airplane crash, the worst redeployment accident in the history of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).  Because it was close to Memorial Day, a small American flag had been placed in the ground next to each soldier's memorial plaque. My concern at the time, however, was getting past the bottleneck, getting out of the rain and getting to PT on time.

    All of a sudden, infuriatingly, just as the traffic was getting started again, the car in front of me stopped. A soldier, a private of course, jumped out in the pouring rain and ran over toward the grove. I couldn't believe it! This knucklehead was holding up everyone for who knows what kind of prank.  Horns were honking. I waited to see the butt-chewing that I wanted him to get for making me late.

    He was getting soaked to the skin. His BDUs were plastered to his frame. I watched-as he ran up to one of the memorial plaques, picked up the small American flag that had fallen to the ground in the wind and the rain, and set it upright again. Then, slowly, he came to attention, saluted, ran back to his car, and drove off.

    I'll never forget that incident. That soldier, whose name I will never know, taught me more about duty, honor, and respect than a hundred books or a thousand lectures.  That simple salute -- that single act of honoring his fallen brother and his flag, encapsulated all the Army values in one gesture for me. It said, "I will never forget. I will keep the faith. I will finish the mission. I am an American soldier."

    I thank God for examples like that. And on this Memorial Day, I will remember all those who paid the ultimate price for my freedom, and one private, soaked to the skin, who honored them.
    Love and Courage
    (Author: David L. Kuzminski)
    Walking down a path through some woods in Georgia, I saw a water puddle ahead on the path. I angled my direction to go around it on the part of the path that wasn't covered by water and mud.
    As I reached the puddle, I was suddenly attacked! Yet I did nothing for the attack was so unpredictable and from a source so totally unexpected. I was startled as well as unhurt, despite having been struck four or five times already. I backed up a foot and my attacker stopped attacking me. Instead of attacking more, he hovered in the air on graceful butterfly wings in front of me. Had I been hurt I wouldn't have found it amusing, but I was unhurt, it was funny, and I was laughing. After all, I was being attacked by a butterfly!
    Having stopped laughing, I took a step forward. My attacker rushed me again. He rammed me in the chest with his head and body, striking me over and over again with all his might, still to no avail.
    For a second time, I retreated a step while my attacker relented in his attack. Yet again, I tried moving forward. My attacker charged me again. I was rammed in the chest over and over again. I wasn't sure what to do, other than to retreat a third time. After all, it's just not every day that one is attacked by a butterfly.
    This time, though, I stepped back several paces to look the situation over. My attacker moved back as well to land on the ground. That's when I discovered why my attacker was charging me only moments earlier. He had a mate and she was dying. She was beside the puddle where he landed.  Sitting close beside her, he opened and closed his wings as if to fan her. I could only admire the love and courage of that butterfly in his concern for his mate. He had taken it upon himself to attack me for his mate's sake, even though she was clearly dying and I was so large. He did so just to give her those extra few precious moments of life, should I have been careless enough to step on her. Now I knew why and what he was fighting for. 
    There was really only one option left for me. I carefully made my way around the puddle to the other side of the path, though it was only inches wide and extremely muddy. His courage in attacking something thousands of times larger and heavier than himself just for his mate's safety justified it. I couldn't do anything other than reward him by walking on the more difficult side of the puddle. He had truly earned those moments to be with her, undisturbed.  I left them in peace for those last few moments, cleaning the mud from my boots when I later reached my car.
    Since then, I've always tried to remember the courage of that butterfly whenever I see huge obstacles facing me. I use that butterfly's courage as an inspiration and to remind myself that good things are worth fighting for.
    Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.   Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Copyright © 1998 - 2014 by Stephen J. Hall  -   Notes from the Valley are meant to brighten your day and encourage you along the way.  If you are blessed by them, please feel free to make copies and pass them along to others.    If you have something you’d like to contribute to a future edition or would like to ask us a question or make a comment, please contact us at: 
    The LORD is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?
    The LORD is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?
    Psalm 27:1-2 (NIV)