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Monday, November 24, 2014

A Memorial Day Children's Story

Monday, May 28, has been designated Memorial Day in the United States of America. Several years ago Pastor Robert J. Wieland told this story to the children at the Banning, California, church. Although it's longer than our usual "Dial Daily Bread," we thought it might be interesting to children (and perhaps adults) throughout the world, as it is the "end of the story" that binds us together.
The "Dial Daily Bread" Staff
Many years ago [1868], General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued a Memorial Day Order, which began a special day to remember everyone who has died in U. S. wars since the War of Independence of 1775. [1]
Boys and girls like to have fun, and its right that they should have fun. Sometimes they think life is nothing but fun. Mother asks Johnny to rake the leaves on the lawn but he says, "Oh, Mom, that's no fun!" She asks little Mary to help her mop the floor, or do the laundry or the dishes, but Mary says, "Oh, Mom, that's no fun!"
Sometimes teachers want to tear their hair out because the children don't like to study ("if it's no fun, don't do it"); so they devise all sorts of ways to make reading, writing, and arithmetic "fun."
But there are some things, boys and girls, that are simply not fun, and nothing you can do will make them fun. One of them is WAR. Only an evil man could ever think that war is FUN. It's no fun to be shot in the arm or leg or head or chest in a war, especially on enemy soil, under a foreign sky.
Since the War of Independence began, a half million Americans have died in major wars [now well over a million]. I think it's good for us to think about that on this Memorial Day holiday, instead of thinking only of ball games, picnics, or swimming.
Think of the Revolutionary War of 1775-1789. Brave men died that America might be a free and independent nation. Do you know what that means? I lived for nearly 20 years in countries that were free and independent. You become a real American when you yourself begin to appreciate the freedom and independence your country enjoys.
Think of another of the big wars America suffered--the Civil War. A terrible war caused by slavery. Some of the American people thought it was all right to have slaves, and others thought it wrong. Neither side was happy. Finally, the nation broke in two, and the two sides began to fight each other. Hard to imagine, isn't it? Suppose that California declared war against Arizona, and Arizona soldiers came into Banning, burning our buildings and taking us prisoners, and California soldiers went into Arizona doing the same thing. That would be awful, but that's similar to what happened. The result was that the Nation was united again, so we have what we call the "United" States of America. What difference does it make? Peace and prosperity and freedom for all. We should appreciate what those brave soldiers on both sides did when they died in that terrible war.
Think of the two World Wars. There's usually wrong on both sides in every war, and it's hard for the children to think of anybody as an enemy. America has never wanted to fight, and was reluctant to get into either of those wars. But there came a time when we had to because there was evil threatening the world. And so much suffering came.
But today we can have picnics, we can go on vacation trips without fear, we can go swimming and hiking, can play and work and go to school, all in a free country. Why? Because brave men and women, half a million of them, and many more besides in other countries, died. We think of them on Memorial Day. Let's don't forget them. You'll enjoy your life a lot more when you realize what it cost!
But I want you to think of someone else who died that you and I might live. "If I died for all, then were all dead. …" That's the gospel right there--you believe it or you don't believe it. If you believe it, you realize that if Jesus had not died, you would be in your grave today, dead. But He died for you, and you want to live for Him. Your life doesn't belong to you.
Yes, boys and girls, that's the gospel. Do you believe it? Do you say, "No, I want to live my own life--I want to have my own way, I don't see what right Jesus has to claim my life!" Or do you say in your heart, "Thank You, Jesus, for making that sacrifice to save me from the grave. It's so hard for me to give my heart and my whole life to You, but love makes it easy!"
I'm sure the older folks who have listened to our children's this morning will want to join us as we all stand together for a few moments of silent meditation with bowed heads as we think of the men and women who died for our country; and above all, as we think of Him who died for us on the cross.
Robert J. Wieland (1968)

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