Editor’s note – I was asked by some who attended the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Forks Cemetery if I might share Pastor George Williams’ speech that he shared that day.
G.W. Williams, Forks Bible Church
“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, Copyright ©, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission”
It is no secret that the cost of living continues to rise and prices paid out to meet that cost are being inflated at astronomical rates.
After WWII it is said that modest new home prices were around 6 thousand dollars but now in some places, the median price for used homes is from 270-300 thousand dollars and up. I can remember in the 1950s and 60s in South Texas a real hamburger was 20 cents, fries were a dime and a milkshake was 15 cents.
Now, we’re talking about twenty dollars for that package. My mom said that in 1957 she paid $1,200 dollars for a brand new automobile and the other day a friend told me that a new SUV she looked at now was over $86,000 dollars. According to news reports the prices of meats in some places have tripled in the last few weeks forcing some folks to become vegetarians.
I’m told that in some places the price of a simple 2×4 is over ten dollars. Due mostly to various governmental taxes fuel prices are through the roof forcing many folks to take on extra part-time jobs to pay for fuel just to be able to travel to and from their primary job sites. It has been reported that health prices are such that some people are forced to do without medications.
But, while the cost of living and prices paid out to satisfy that cost continues to escalate, the cost of liberty for our people and the price paid out to satisfy that cost always has been far greater. The cost of liberty has been human life; the price paid out has been many sacrificed lives by our countrymen – many lives to secure our liberty.
As a single nation of a variety of peoples we set aside this occasion once a year to reflect upon, to remember and to demonstrate respect for those multitudes of individuals who paid the ultimate price sacrificially to satisfy the high cost so that we might enjoy liberty and freedom. Those who paid it for us were real, living and breathing men, women, and in some cases children.
They were husbands and fathers, wives and mothers, brothers and sisters, cousins, uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces. They were sons and daughters. They were neighbors, friends, business acquaintances and co-workers. They were people of differing ethnic backgrounds and skin colors yet all having the same color of blood; they were of differing educational levels and economic incomes. Some were military personnel serving as soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coastguardsmen.
Others served as protectors on our borders and transporters of armaments on the waterways.
Others were intelligence gatherers and civil authorities serving our country as emissaries of peace in our embassies abroad. Some were desk clerks, cooks, logistic officers and mechanics. Some were infantrymen, communications specialists, medical technicians, physicians and nurses, entertainers, pilots, bombardiers, snipers, truck drivers and law enforcement personnel. Some were attorneys, some were cryptologists, engineers, grave-diggers and accountants and some were chaplains killed while comforting the wounded and dying on battlefields.
All of them met the high cost and paid the ultimate price at such locations as Lexington, Concord, Saratoga and Valley Forge; behind the walls of the Alamo, on the shores of Tripoli, in the cornfields of Gettysburg, at Fredricksburg, Shiloh, Chancellorsville and Vicksburg; in the trenches and no-man’s land in France; on the sands of Iwo Jima and the bloody beaches of Normandy, the frozen territories of Korea and in the humid, steamy jungles and rice patties of Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia.
They were cut down on the mountains in Afghanistan and in the desert regions and crowded adobe villages of Iraq. They died from bullet wounds, bombs, bayonets, grenades, missile attacks, torpedoes, poisons, starvation, suffocation, drowning and infections.
They were hung, beheaded, strangled in cages, beaten and tortured to death on forced marches. They were shot as spies, murdered in their bunks in Lebanon, assassinated by drug lords, blown up by IEDs in the Middle East, and they were targets of sniper assassinations by our enemies. They died in tanks and trucks, in submarines, in battleships at Pearl Harbor and in aircraft carriers at such places as the Coral Sea and Midway. They were killed in the skies over Germany and other parts of Europe. They died in foxholes in Italy, France, Sipan and Guadalcanal; and they were cut down at places like Bunker Hill, San Juan Hill, Pork Chop Hill and Hamburger Hill. They died in hot wars, in cold wars, in police actions, in skirmishes and in raids to protect others. They died in covert operations, on reconnaissance missions, on rescue missions and on relief missions. They made the ultimate sacrifice both here in our country as well as on foreign shores. Life for liberty – that’s the cost and it has been paid out at a very high price indeed – many lives for our liberty!
Along with their sacrifices came the grief and anguish of those who lost their sons and daughters, their husbands or wives, their fathers, and mothers. This was the collateral price tacked on to the already high price paid out as part of the cost of liberty.
They were grieving sons who no longer had fathers with whom to play ball and daughters who would not have fathers to walk them down the aisle on that special wedding day. They were children who would not have their mothers to comfort them when they were in sorrow or with whom they could spend the day shopping at a mall or to cry with them over a broken heart. They were wives who would not have their husbands to hold them when they were afraid and husbands who would not have wives to encourage them when they were in need of emotional support.
They were fathers and mothers who would not have their sons and daughters to whom they could pass off family treasures.
And in addition, our nation grieves because so many of our fallen brothers and sisters did not return and were not able to become those great inventors, doctors, educators, servant-leaders, and moral examples our nation has needed so desperately even to this very hour.
Given the present condition of our world and the declared intentions of domestic and international terrorists, tyrants and thugs it appears that prices paid out to meet the high cost for our liberty are going to rise even higher. We do well to follow the advice of President Theodore Roosevelt who told us to walk softly and carry a big stick. The cost for our liberty is very high – sacrificed life. And we must do what we can to keep to a minimum the price paid out to meet that high cost.
Many of us on this day will meet with family and friends to enjoy briskets and barbecued burgers, beans, and potato salad; Many will watch automobile races or ball games; Many will take time off from work to get some well-needed rest and to enjoy a national holiday with loved ones and friends. But we must never forget to reflect upon, to remember, and to demonstrate respect for those who paid the greatest price of all to meet the high cost of our liberty. Many lives sacrificed for our liberty.
We are grateful to our Great Creator and Merciful God for His care of those who made those highest of all sacrifices for us and we rest in the fact that He always does that which is right at all times. We continue to recognize that His infinite grace is sufficient for our every need – even when we are grieving. But, until that time comes as the Scriptures states in Isa. 2:4 (NASB) when our Great and Sovereign Lord will “…render decisions for many peoples…” and will cause all swords to be hammered “…into plowshares…” and all “…spears into pruning hooks…”; when nations “…will not lift up sword against nation…” and men “…never again…” will learn war we must continue to look to Him by faith and trust in Him to guide us in righteousness. And by His provisions and by His wise guidance we must endeavor to minimize the high price paid out to meet the high cost for our liberty.
We are grateful to all those who gave their lives sacrificially on our behalf. Let all of us endeavor continually to remind those who follow us that the cost of our present liberty was very high and it was secured at a great price – their many lives for our liberty. We must live worthy of their sacrifices.