250,000 graves stretch out in rows at Arlington National Cemetery. That’s only a small portion of all the military men and women who died in the line of duty. Those graves remind us that freedom isn’t free. In fact, some pay the ultimate price to purchase freedom for the rest of us.
Sometimes I forget what that really means. Then I imagine what it must have been like for a young man with his whole future ahead of him. I imagine him looking at his mom and dad, his brother and sisters, and maybe a young woman he loved, and thinking, “I’ll be back. I hope. I have to do this.” I imagine him putting the family farm behind him, and marching toward danger… because it’s his duty… because he believes in his country… because he loves freedom. I imagine that even as the bullets fly around him, he looks up at the stars at night and plans the life he’ll have when he gets back home. He thinks about the woman he’ll marry, the children he’ll have, the home he’ll buy for his parents.
But he never makes it home. His dreams die with him. His family grieves. They’ve lost a son. They’ve lost the memories they were going to make together. They’ve lost the daughter-in-law and the grandchildren and the laughs and the tears of a lifetime spent with their son.
Give, because your freedom was purchased at an enormous price, and you honor that sacrifice by living. Not pseudo-living. Not half-way living. Not playing it safe living. Not avoiding risk living.
Live all out. Give all of your gifts. Touch as many lives as possible. Make people smile, laugh, and believe in themselves. When you arrive at the end of your life and can say, “I gave it all I had”, then you’ve honored that young man whose death made it possible for you to live.