In honor of those who gave the last full measure of devotion – those who believed that “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet…the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.” (Thomas Paine, The Crisis) – and in honor of Memorial Day, I want to share this video from Rob Gardner’s The Price of Freedom. Many fought and still fight to preserve the freedoms we enjoy in the United States of America and around much of the world. On this Memorial Day take some time to ponder on the sacrifices so many made in order to preserve our freedoms.
Sixty-five years ago the Allied forces launched the largest amphibious single-day invasion in history. By air, by sea, and by land the Allies approached the shores of Normandy in a risky but important endeavor to beat back the Nazi army. While the invasion was costly with approximately 10,000 Allied casualties (wounded, captured, killed) and up to 9,000 German casualties, it proved to be the beginning of the end for the Nazi regime and for World War II. The Allies fought for freedom and family. They fought for God.
In the Book of Mormon, the great military and church leader Moroni faced similar attacks – from within and without his people – on freedom. He decided he needed to rally his people to fight for their freedoms.
“And it came to pass that [Moroni] rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole. And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land—For thus were all the true believers of Christ, who belonged to the church of God, called by those who did not belong to the church. And those who did belong to the church were faithful; yea, all those who were true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ, or Christians as they were called, because of their belief in Christ who should come. And therefore, at this time, Moroni prayed that the cause of the Christians, and the freedom of the land might be favored” (Alma 46:12-16; emphasis added).
Just as Captain Moroni invoked the blessings of God on his people in their cause, in their fight for God, religion, freedom, families, and ultimately peace, so did the Allied forces invoke the power of the Almighty on their battles. Gen. Eisenhower, the commander of the Allied forces, sent out these words to the troops before their invasion.
“Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
“Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.
“But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!
“I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!
“Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking” (Source).
I am grateful for the God-given liberties and freedoms we enjoy. I am grateful for those who fought to protect our freedoms. I am grateful for those who sacrificed their lives in the fight for freedom. What a price they paid! I pray that we will always remember the Source of our freedoms and honor Him in righteousness.
Please take the time to view portions of Rob Gardner’s The Price of Freedom, a musical production honoring those who sacrificed so much during World War II. You can watch close to an hour of the production online by visiting this page or the YouTube priceoffreedommusic channel. I’ve embedded two clips from the musical – one about D-Day as well as a preview (“trailer”) video.
Everything comes down to a choice. We can choose to fight with the Lord or fight against Him. The Lord’s victory is imminent and sure. “High on a mountain top, a banner is unfurled.” (Hymns, #5). Who will carry that banner? Who will rally to the flag of Truth and the army of the Lord? “Hope of Israel, Zion’s army, Children of the promised day, See, the Chieftain signals onward, And the battle’s in array” (Hymns, #259). “We a war ‘gainst sin are waging; We’re contending for the right. Ev’ry day the battle’s raging; Help us, Lord, to win the fight. Gather round the standard bearer” (Hymns, #258). “The truths and values we embrace are mocked on ev’ry hand. Yet as we listen and obey we know we can withstand” (Hymns, #256).
I think of the recent attacks the Church and members of the Church have withstood because of their support of marriage amendments, especially Prop. 8 in California. Many church members chose to stand for truth and right and have been mocked. They chose to stand on the Lord’s side, even as many people ridiculed from the great and spacious building. “Don’t stand idly looking on; the fight with sin is real. It will be long but must go on; put your shoulder to the wheel” (Hymns, #252). “Oh, when the war is ended, when strife and conflicts cease, when all are safely gathered within the vale of peace, before the King eternal, that vast and mighty throng shall praise his name forever, and this shall be their song: Victory, victory, thru him who redeemed us! Victory…thru Jesus Christ, our Lord!” (Hymns, #251).
“Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage…and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad…let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities, and powers! Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand; and who can abide the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap; and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” (D&C; 128:22-24).
So, onward, Christian soldiers! Let us choose the Lord. Let us fight His battles and strive for His reward. Let us serve our royal Father and defend truth and right. Let us march on to victory, through the thronging foes; let us sing our Savior’s praises and bask in His light. We march on to glory, shielded by the strength of God; we will be victorious and dwell with God on high.
On occasion in sacrament meeting we sing a hymn with words by Hannah Cornaby:
“Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who? Now is the time to show. We ask it fearlessly: Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?…We serve the living God, And want his foes to know that, if but few, we’re great; Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who? We’re going on to win; No fear must blanch the brow. The Lord of Hosts is ours; Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?… The stone cut without hands to fill the earth must grow. Who’ll help to roll it on? Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who? Our ensign to the world is floating proudly now. No coward bears our flag; Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?… The powers of earth and hell in rage direct the blow that’s aimed to crush the work; Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who? Truth, life, and liberty, Freedom from death and woe, are stakes we’re fighting for; Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?… We ask it fearlessly: Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?” (Hymns, 1985, no. 260).
That is one of the purposes of life – to see who is willing to be on the Lord’s side, even though we do not remember our life with Him before our mortal births.
“Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; And God saw these souls that they were good…. And there stood one among them that was ilke unto God, and he said unto those who were with him…we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them…. And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first. And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.” (Abraham 3:22-28).
We are part of that war that started many years ago. This war of words, ideals, and truth started in the pre-earth life. We were all there at that grand council. We had to make a choice – we always have been given the choice. We had to speak for one or the other. We were given two choices: God’s plan as put forth by Jesus Christ or Lucifer’s plan. We had to choose to be on either the Lord’s side or on Lucifer’s side, there was no middle ground. Some people probably were not engaged in their choice and support of a plan but they had to choose.
There is no middle ground in this life either. We need to stand up for the Lord’s Church and unflinchingly stand against those who fight against the Lord. We don’t need to go on the offensive but we need to be willing to stand strong and tall, fearless in our faith, against the onslaughts of the enemy.