Friday, May 25, 2007

Memorial Day: The Cornerstone

Memorial Day: The Cornerstone

On Monday, Americans celebrate Memorial Day. It's a time to stop and pray, as we reflect on the sacrifice of those who have laid down their lives so that we might live in freedom. Here in Washington, the day dawns as President Bush lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Those who attend the early morning ceremony will be able to read some of the words engraved at the heart of Arlington National Cemetery. There's a Latin inscription which, translated, says: "It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country." This idea, which was written before the birth of Jesus, comes from the Roman author Horace. Clearly, patriotism goes a long way back.

When the cornerstone for the Tomb was laid in 1915, a time capsule was placed within it containing several interesting items from our nation's history. Among the things our ancestors thought important for us to remember were a copy of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, a U.S. Flag (1915), and Pierre L'Enfant's map design of the city of Washington, D.C. But the first thing our ancestors placed in that time capsule was the Bible. That's interesting since the nation had been operating under the Constitution for 125 years by that point, and yet none of our leaders--Democrat or Republican-- thought the inclusion of the Bible would present a constitutional problem. In that Bible, of course, we read Jesus' words: "Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)

As a Marine myself, I feel a special bond with those who have served. When I served, we learned about the blood red stripe that runs down the length of a Marine's trousers, earned in Mexico's Halls of Montezuma. The Marine officer's sword, which is called the Mameluke sword, is curved, reminding us that President Jefferson ordered the Marines to storm the shores of Tripoli. He wanted to stop Muslim terrorists from kidnapping Americans. Sound familiar?

"Where do we get such men," General Dwight D. Eisenhower asked in amazement when he saw Army Rangers scaling the heights of Pointe du Hoc in Normandy on D-Day. The truth is, we get them from the same places we've always gotten them--from the farms and factories, from villages, suburbs, and big cities, and from America's churches. That's why the Word of God is there, in that cornerstone. And that's why it is the cornerstone of our national life.

(Family Research Council: Tony Perkins' Washington Update, May 25, 2007)