George Santayana was a professor of philosophy at Harvard. About eighty years ago he said, “Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat history.” The way I phrased it is very close to what he is reputed to have said. Of course, he is right. I just read that two-thirds of all American eighth graders cannot read, write or do math at anywhere near their grade level. I believe it would be absolutely safe to say that the percentage quoted would be very close to the absence of knowledge about history in the same demographic. Before we adults get too puffed up, what do we know about history? World history? American history? Not just secular history, but Biblical history? The sad fact is that most Americans do not know history…and we do not care to know it. The study of history is not seen as “fun” or relevant, so it is largely abandoned and forgotten.This is Memorial Day weekend. The challenge before us is to realize that our freedom was purchased at a great cost. We dishonor our country and its heroes when we are ignorant about our history.
Monday…John 15:13…Jesus is speaking to His Twelve at the Last Supper and on that occasion he reminds them that the greatest love of all is exhibited when one is willing to lay down his life for his friends. The very next day, Friday, Jesus would do just that. Freedom costs!
Tuesday…More than 260,000 American soldiers died in WW II. Sixteen million Americans (men and women) served and hundreds of thousands of those suffered terrible injuries as a result of combat. In Matthew 24, Jesus reminds us that “wars and rumors of wars” will precede the parousia (Second Coming of Christ). The fact is that “wars and rumors of wars” are woven deep into the fabric of human history. Will and Ariel Durant, eminent historians of yesteryear have calculated that in more than six thousand years of human history there MAY have been only about 300 years of peace. How we thank God for the men and women who have fought and died for our freedom!
Wednesday…What kind of person would give his life for another? Paul tells us (Romans 5:8) that some people will rise to this level of sacrifice. The astonishing thing is that Jesus, while we were yet sinners, died for us. Look at your watch. Think about Jesus dying for you for a solid minute.
Thursday…3,517 people have been awarded the Medal of Honor…the highest award for valor given to an American service person. Just under half of those were given during the American Civil War which means that since 1865 (the end of the Civil War), approximately 1,800 people have received this extraordinary honor. When we realize that approximately 57 million Americans have served since the Civil War, we see what an elite group those 1,800 people comprise (.003%!). Memorial Day is a good time to reflect on the heroes who have made our country what it is…and to be grateful.
Friday…I was in a grocery store recently and I was struck by the abundance. That same evening I saw the starvation (depicted in a news broadcast) that stalks more than 2.5 billion people around the world. Why do we have so much? The answer partially rests on the fact that our service people have given so much. The rest of the equation has to do with the fact that Proverbs 14:34 is true. ALL of it is true.