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Let freedom ring!

BY CAPTAIN LISA M. VAN CLEEF – 

There are two symbols I think should be present at every street corner, in every town square, at each highway intersection. They are quite simply, a cross and a World War II memorial. Yes, it’s an odd combination. But what better reminder of the freedoms we celebrate.

My husband recently took me to see the movie Pearl Harbor. Each time I watch one of these WWII era films, I am moved to tears. Emotions arise in me that I would never expect. I don’t consider myself an overly patriotic person, until I see the depiction of war, and what it meant for this country. I’m not fool enough to think that each of these films is historically accurate, but the depictions of the emotions, the brutality, the sacrifice is all too real.

We did not have to enter that war; we could have continued our isolationist stance. But because we did fight, men, women and families were changed forever. Our country was changed forever. If our country were a tree, this war would be the knot that scars each slab of wood.

There are currently arguments in Washington, DC about where to locate the WWII memorial. Simple ­ put one in every town. Remind us of the freedoms that brave men and women fought to uphold. Remind us of the sacrifice. Remind us of this country’s strength and its ability to overcome.

A few years ago, there was a Christian rock song with the lyrics, “God give us America.” Forgive me, but my initial thought was, “You idiots, he already did!” America’s very existence is a miracle, a divine occurrence. How many times has he given us the victory? How often has he been our strength? Nowhere is that seen more clearly than in the victory that was achieved in World War II. From that point on, God blessed this country in ways unimaginable.

Now, for the cross. We have crosses all over this country–in church buildings, on hillsides, around our necks. I have two problems. First, there are those crosses that have Jesus still nailed to them. That’s not the whole picture. I can’t stand only getting half way through a story. He didn’t stay on that cross! He is alive.

Second, all these crosses are so pretty. The cross at our church is varnished and sanded smooth; it would make any wood-worker proud. And any jewelry store will gladly display gold or silver cross pendants–smooth, polished, professional. That’s not a cross!

The cross was gross, it was brutal and blood stained, rough and uneven. That’s the kind of cross we need to see every day. Remind us of the freedom we receive in the risen Lord. Remind us of Christ’s sacrifice. Remind us of the brutality and the strength it took to overcome.

The sad truth is that in this age, we are losing the freedoms hard fought for only 60 years ago. We couldn’t put a cross on every corner if we wanted to. But we need to. As Christians we need to be reminded of two things: the freedoms we enjoy in this country and the freedoms we enjoy in Christ. May we not forget the sacrifices of a generation past that brought new life to our nation. May we not forget that sacrifice 2000 years ago that brought life to our soul.

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