When I was a child the Memorial Day holiday had an alternate name. Many of my relatives still called it “Decoration Day” because part of the day was devoted to putting flowers or wreaths on the graves of those who had died while in military service to our country. I know it is still an important day for many and countless families still pause to honor fallen family and friends. But for many of us it is too easy to make this a day only for barbecues, department store sales and family get togethers.

I have not been directly touched by the loss of a family member or friend in war. My father served in World War II and I remember how moved I was by the twenty-one gun salute his fellow comrades gave him at his graveside service. I don’t want to be grumpy old man and rain on your fun Memorial Day plans. I am planning on having sixty-seven percent of my sons over for a cookout. But I am asking you to take a few minutes and reflect, pray and thank God for the men and women who are serving us this day around the world. And for the families of those who are desperately missing a beloved soldier on this day.

Last year I wrote an article challenging the idea that some Christians might choose to sit out the upcoming Presidential election.   I received some feedback from a man who had earned the right to be heard on this issue.  

I risk my life daily in the skies of Iraq so you all may have the privilege of voting. Please don't throw that away. I am not a fan of any of the candidates either, but I will vote and my vote will go to the one whose values are most like my own. I fear if the wrong people come to power, we will pull out of Iraq pre-maturely which means two things. 1. It means that my friends have died in vain. 2. It means that our families are at a much greater risk from another attack on the home soil. Contrary to what some think, Al Q'aida is in Iraq. They haven't submerged so as to re-emerge at some later date. We are chasing them down and killing and capturing them daily. I believe they haven't been able to plan and execute another horrible attack simply because we have them on the run. Their thoughts are only of survival and we must continue to pursue them to keep them at bay. Your vote tells me that you care about the sacrifices of my friends' lives. It also tells me that you care about the sacrifices of all of our military families. About the men and women, who though happily married, play single-parent for months at time. My wife has been a single mom for 8 of the last 13 months and this cycle will continue. It is a sacrifice we gladly make to keep our friends and families safe, to keep our nation free and to protect your rights. Please, exercise those rights.

-David, Major, United States Air Force
Balad Air Base, Iraq

Pray for David. Pray for his friends and colleagues. And thank you David for your service, your wisdom and your heart. We are blessed by men and women like you. Don't forget them on this Memorial Day.

Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com.