I thought this week we would enjoy a Memorial Day speech from the late, great Billy Graham.
“Three weeks ago, I had the privilege of spending an afternoon with President Eisenhower at Gettysburg. He took me on a personally conducted tour of the Battlefield of Gettysburg, explaining the strategy used by both the Confederate and Union forces.
Both of my grandfathers fought at Gettysburg. This famous battlefield, and hundreds of others like it, have become hallowed soil, where thousands of Americans have died either to preserve freedom, prevent aggression or keep intact the union of American states.
Some months ago, President Eisenhower was touring the Battlefield at Valley Forge. He was being shown from one Historic spot to another. He made this statement at the conclusion of the tour: This is where they got it for us.
What did he mean He meant that those men, and thousands of others in all the wars that America has fought. They purchased by their blood the freedoms that we enjoy today in the land of the free and the home of the brave. That terse statement from the lips of our president has rung in my ears for many months.
I stood by the bedside of a boy in Korea whose spine had been torn away by a shell blast the night before, but by some miracle, he was still living. He was unable to change His position; and if he lived, the doctor informed me, the rest of His days would be spent lying on His stomach. The army medics had patched Him up the best they could. I gripped His cold, perspiring hand and said words of comfort to Him. He made a statement I will never forget. He said: It was worth it if it will keep America free!
That’s what you call getting it for us! As we think of the selflessness and heroism of such fellows, we are reminded of the words of Jesus Christ who said,
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down His life for His friends.” – John 15:13
The freedoms we enjoy, the freedoms we take so much for granted, the freedoms we so often trifle with were bought not by the gold of our millionaires. Nor altogether the genius of our scientists, nor the sacrifices of the people at home. But primarily by the blood, sweat and agony of those whose names on this day we honor those who died that we might live!
They found, as have brave men of all ages, that there are principles well worth dying for. In addition, their noble, unselfish sacrifice is a silent, eloquent rebuke to the self-centeredness of this generation.
Let those who want peace at any price remember this day that thousands have died for honor and freedom and that what we have today has come at the price of shed blood.
The sacrifices of our war dead have been great. Yet the greatest sacrifice of all time was made by a man on a cross. He died not only physically but spiritually that men might live.
My mind goes back 2,000 years to another battle which was fought on a hill called Calvary. It was a battle of one young man against all the forces of evil. It seemed like a futile, hopeless struggle as Jesus Christ took on satans task force single-handed.
The jeers of the rabble, the spittle of the soldiers and the sneering of the people were incidental compared to the inner struggle which was taking place in His soul. But I watch Him, in fancy, as one hand is stretched out toward God and the other toward rebellious man. Furthermore, He makes the connection and says: It is finished. He got through for us!