I am of the belief that we owe a debt of respect and gratitude to those who choose to serve in the military, regardless of active duty, combat service or branch of service. Those that answer the call of duty to our nation are owed that much simply for having chosen to accept that responsibility and the risks associated with it. Most people agree with this as it relates to those wearing the uniform of our armed services, and those that have died in the service of our country.

What is not so clear for many is the same respect and appreciation for those that once served and no longer active in their service to our nation. Some people would suggest that they are not owed that same level of respect and appreciation however I would disagree. I believe that once a person accepts that responsibility and the risks associated with it, we owe them great respect and appreciation and that is to last the duration of our lives and not theirs.

There are people who question why I believe that we own veterans respect and appreciation for the entirety of their lives, and beyond. I think it’s like the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who gave his life so that we could live ours free from the burden of sin. When someone’s sacrifice has eternal consequences the value of that sacrifice has to be the equivalent. Meaning that when someone is willing to lay down their life for someone else, especially someone else who may not even care or appreciate that act of sacrifice, the value of that sacrifice is compounded beyond the purely physical. And if the sacrifice, be it a fixed consequence or just a potential consequences is the end of that persons life, than the respect due in exchange for it must be of equal or greater value.

When a young person is willing to take on the risk of that duty, at the potential cost of their life, those of us on the receiving end of that sacrifice owe respect and appreciation to that person for the equal duration. This means that for as long as I am alive, living in this free country (although questionable as to what degree it is free and for how much longer), I will show respect to and appreciate those that have made that choice to accept that risk.

And to those that paid the price of that risk, loosing their lives as the cost of that sacrifice, I owe an even greater debt which to me carries over to their remaining family as they are tasked with suffering the consequences of that sacrifice for the entirety of their lives. Therefore I will owe them the respect and appreciation for that same duration. That respect and appreciation is undeniable and is to be defended to the same degree it was given.

For as long as I have breath in my lungs I will owe that gratitude and respect because as long as I have life, their sacrifice was paid for it. I think this is something that has not been taught well to the last few generations as is evidenced by the increasing lack of respect shown to our military by these younger generations. This travesty must be corrected now if we take this debt of respect seriously.

We need to begin teaching our children to understand the sacrifices made by those who have given their lives in service to our nation and help them to learn to show that respect to those who serve and those who have served.

This Memorial Day weekend as we remember and pay tribute to those that paid the ultimate sacrifice, let’s be sure to pray for the families that must endure the burden of the price paid for our freedoms.