(Election Day, 2012)
As I waited in line to vote this morning, thoughts came to mind that overwhelmed me with emotion.
I remembered those who had given “the last full measure of devotion” in order to provide and protect the rights of Americans to choose our leaders. So many have breathed their last breaths for the express purpose of our having the privilege of breathing the rare air of freedom.
I considered those who sacrificed limbs, eyesight, hearing, and a pain-free lifetime for the liberty we so easily take for granted. Indeed, let us never forget the many Americans who will suffer pain and loss every day for the rest of their lives – and in this very moment - to ensure our freedom.
I thought of battlefields, airspace, and oceans filled with explosives, shrapnel, fire and bullets, and the Americans who endured such horror to make possible the privilege we exercise today. I thought of the statement my son, Staff Sgt. Noah Davis, USMC, made to me recently concerning his deployment in Iraq: “Every day I was there, I thought I was going to die.”
I pondered the training required to enable and equip men and women to serve in the Armed Forces. Sacrifices involving body, mind, and heart make possible the duties fulfilled by those who stand guard to defend the sanctity of the United States.
I considered the fact that, whether by draft or voluntary enlistment, so many Americans in history have experienced that moment when they swear to defend the Constitution of the United States with their very lives. Indeed, when we visited Washington D.C. many years ago, the most important thing in Frances’s mind involved a visit to Constitution Hall: “I want to see the Document that my son has sworn to defend at any cost.”
I remembered the times when Noah has left for deployments into harm’s way, and I thought of how much it affected him to leave family, friend, and way of life. I thought also of how much it affected us, and how many Americans have experienced that keen pain of separation from loved ones whom they may never see again because of their devotion.
I grieved when thinking of fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and friends receiving the news that their loved ones would not be returning home to them. Indeed, in the last decade, more than 4,000 Americans have died serving our country, and the interests of others in other lands. Many more than that grieve at the loss, and I try to remember daily to pray for those whose departed loved ones made it possible for us to freely vote today.
I thought of lost time, opportunity, career, family, and a life lived amid the ordinary blessings and challenges known by most people in our nation. How easily we average citizens forget the sacrifices of those who vouchsafe the normalcy of our everyday lives. “But you must remember, my fellow citizens” said President Andrew Jackson in 1837, “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and that you must pay that price in order to secure the blessing.” Those who serve in our Armed Forces understand this truth, and apply themselves to it far more than does the average citizen. For this, we owe them a profound debt of gratitude. And, of remembrance.
Finally, and most importantly, I remembered the source of all genuinely self-sacrificial devotion. I remembered the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave all and suffered more than any other to grant the truest liberty to us, the liberty of the heart. Our Savior made possible our freely determined faith to receive His gift of eternal life, and then to choose the submission to Him that liberates our spirits unto relationship with the living God. America’s ideals of freedom reflect this truth in principle, and those who have served, and who presently serve in our military, reveal in practice the cost of such Blood-stained liberty.
These things came to mind and heart as I waited to vote today. I hope they will stay with me always, and I hope to live as an American who understands that freedom comes to us and remains with us not freely, but at the highest cost imaginable to both God and man.
“Greater love hath no man than this, than that he lay down his life for his friends.”
“God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”