We gather on this Memorial Day weekend enjoying the privileges and rights of civil liberty. It is proper and noble to pay homage to intercessors of freedom, servants of justice, and soldiers of peacemaking. For love of country and love for freedom, many heroic men and valiant women accept death as not too great a price to pay. By their sacrifice they have kept the gates of freedom open for many sons and daughters to enjoy the liberties of worship, of speech, of life, and of the enjoyment of life.
At the colossal gate, just below an upraised torch, Lady Liberty calls out:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send them, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Our invitation is not secular sentimentality but an echo of One who said, “Come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
We mourn not the cost of freedom, nor fear what must be paid, but we praise our benefactors, our gain upon them laid. We honor their spirit, their bravery, their love, and their selflessness. They took no thought for their life, but laid it down for their friends and, yes, even for their political enemies. May their unwavered patriotism remind us to love our neighbor as ourselves: to stand for the weak, to labor for the weary, to embrace the wretched, and to welcome the wanderer. We love our country because our countrymen are our nearest neighbors. Let love fill the basin of our own community on its course to overflowing to the banks of the world.
We love our country because our countrymen are our nearest neighbors.
Some go to war for hate; others for love. One harms in vengeance, the other helps in mercy. This Memorial Day, we stand not for ourselves but for others. We stand in memory of the fallen. We stand for those who cannot stand for themselves. We stand and say to those who cannot hear, yet with deep, heartfelt gratitude: thank you, not merely for your service to our countrymen but for your valor on behalf of enslaved people everywhere. May your immortal epitaph be that evil was overcome with good, hatred with love, injustice with mercy, and death with life.
PRAYER (BCP, “For the Nation”): Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.