Memorial Day belongs to every American, to remind us to pause in humbleMemorialDay_inline gratitude for the men and women of our military who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the protection and defense of the United States; to teach our children and grandchildren that freedom is not free, that it comes at enormous cost; and to renew our commitment to the ongoing struggle to protect and preserve our personal and religious liberties.

Former President Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” These words ring all the more true today as we see enemies from without and evil from within determined to strip away our freedom.

But in a personal way, Memorial Day belongs to a special group of people who have been experiencing the cost of freedom deep within their lives. These are the Gold Star Families, the families of our fallen heroes. These families continue to sorrow, to carry the ache of the sacrifice of their loved one, to feel that person’s absence in their homes. For them, Memorial Day is a day of loving tribute for the commitment and bravery of our troops.

Nearly every church has one or more Gold Star families in its congregation. Do you know who they are? They may have lost a grandfather in World War II, an uncle in the Korean War, a brother in Vietnam, a son or daughter in Iraq or Afghanistan, or in any of our other military actions over the years. They will pause on Memorial Day to remember the letters, the conversations, the events that took the life of their loved one. Pause with them, thank them for their sacrifice, and uphold them in prayer! Remember that freedom is not free. We enjoy it because others have paid the ultimate price on our behalf. May we never take this for granted.