Ashlie Miller: Remembering well

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 25, 2024

By Ashlie Miller

Summer colors of red, white and blue will begin to unfurl in some yards this weekend. The air will smell more deliciously charred as burgers or steaks sizzle on the grill. Many will welcome summer with Memorial Day weekend. After a grueling school year or a midyear break in work, vacation days await us just around the corner.

Yet, Memorial Day sits there on the calendar like the stony monuments and grave markers associated with it. It is easy to carry on without a cursory glance or mention. Those who mean well but still miss the day’s significance will no doubt thank veterans — who should be thanked regularly — but fail to remember what this day means. So, the reminder that this is a day to recount significant, costly, life-ending devotion to freedom is necessary.

In the ultimate act of selfless sacrifice, many men and women succumbed to their last battle on earth, more than figuratively. We pause to remember those whose lives were cut short on the battlefield or perhaps years after their time of sacrificial service from wounds and illnesses acquired because of duty. I think of soldiers like my father, who, after serving in the 1970s, developed fatal brain tumors, possibly as a result of deadly chemical exposure. His life was cut short — at age 33. Others have dealt with prolonged injuries leading to a slow, agonizing death.

These soldiers and military leaders counted the cost of their duty, but enrolling at such young ages, I wonder how many truly realized what they were in for. So young, many of them were still teenagers. Still, they pressed on. They served. They fought valiantly. What a privilege to recall their heroism annually on Memorial Day.

In the book of Deuteronomy in the Bible, as Moses prepares the Israelites to enter their promised land, he recounts the journeys and battles, the losses, victories and failures of the parents of the generation about to enter. If you are not aware or need a refresher, those entering the promised land were the children and grandchildren of those rescued from bondage in Egypt. Their ancestors were prohibited from entering because of their hardened rebellion, resulting from their disbelief in God as protector and provider.

Moses wanted the people to be keenly aware of their failures as much as their victories. After all, we each wear more battle scars than medals. Moses did not want them to forget God’s faithfulness or their own wandering heart so they would not slip into sinfulness, rebellion, and, more importantly, be far from the One Who loved them and wanted to give them the best — yes, a promised land, but also an eternal dwelling with Him.

Remembering the heroes of the past is vital to preserving the value of what it means to be American today, not just to recall past victories and defeats as though they are myths and legends. Remembering the presence of God in our past battles — whether we won or walked away with battle scars — is crucial to our faithfulness to God. In both cases, reflecting and sharing these stories can give us courage, confidence and hope for the next step in our journey or for those walking near us.

How will you share stories of courage and faithfulness this weekend — patriotically and spiritually?

Ashlie Miller and her husband Chad are parents to five children in Concord. You may contact her a

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