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Dying for freedom

I have been working this week on a burial service for a soldier whose remains have just been identified from the Korean Conflict.  This process and the ultimate burial service has been a humbling experience for me.  As I have explored the service record and history of this soldier I have learned that he went off to fight for his country at a young age, before he had a wife or children of his own.  He went to fight for the freedom of other families, both Korean and American, before he even had the opportunity to begin his own family.

Involvement in the life of this soldier has caused me to look more intently at the soldiers who are going through training here at Fort Knox.  They have voluntarily joined the Army at a time when our country is at war.  Many of these brave young men have just graduated from high school and like the soldier whose burial service I am preparing, have not yet had an opportunity to begin their own families but have volunteered to fight for the freedom of my family and others around the world.

I wonder what the parents of the soldier who died in Korea felt as he went off to war and then didn’t return.  I wonder what the parents of these soldiers at FortKnox felt when their children left to go into an Army that is at war, no doubt wondering if they would return.  I wonder how I will feel if my sons or daughters choose to go to other parts of the world to face people whose mission it is to see that they don’t return.

I’m reminded of another father who sent his son to die for the lives of others.  In a time when the known world was at war and people were dying without freedom, this father saw that his son was needed to win this war and his son willingly accepted his duty and ultimately gave his life for the lives of many others.

This son’s name was Jesus and he was sent by his father, God, into a world that was dying in sin and without hope.  The world was at war as Satan was seeking to take control of the lives of humankind and shatter the hopes of the people of the world.  But Jesus’ sacrifice brought life and freedom to humankind as he broke Satan’s hold on the people of the world and allowed them to experience real life and true freedom.

But this isn’t just an event in history.  Jesus’ death makes it possible for us to experience abundant life and freedom from sin today.  His death provides a hope of eternal life for us and our families.  Because Jesus died, all humankind can experience his love and this freedom from sin along with this hope of eternal life.

Many have died over the years to provide freedom for people around the world.   Many more are likely to die as they, too, fight for freedom.  We should continue to honor those who serve and those who have died, but even more, we should honor the one who died to give us true freedom and eternal life.  He is worthy of our honor since the death of Jesus on the cross makes it possible for all humankind to have freedom and life even in the midst of a world at war.  We honor him best when we give our life to him.

So as we fight for our freedom and the freedom of others, as we train soldiers who will also go to war to fight for these freedoms and as we send our sons and daughters into harms way to better the lives of others, remember that God sent his son Jesus to war for us, and he ultimately died for our freedom.  Remember, also, that Jesus now lives to be with you both today and forevermore.  Let these facts bring you hope in a time of crisis and peace in a time of war.

(by Chaplain (CPT) Daryl Densford. Originally published 5 Aug 04 in The Turret, Fort Knox, KY )

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