It’s not, you know. Today isn’t the first day of summer. It’s Memorial Day (US). A day of remembering that people died for us.
For us, though we didn’t ask them to. For us, though they may not have been that intentional. For us, though they may not have agreed with what they were doing.
But on some morning, somewhere in the world, a person got up and then died before the day was over. In our name. Most of the people who die for other people aren’t trying to be heroic or make a statement. They are fulfilling a sense of responsibility.
That truth doesn’t have to intentionally shape our lives. We can live as if that person never died. But if their life had value, it means that their death gives our life value.
So what are the ways that we can shape our lives, that we can live with intention, in response to someone’s death giving value to our life?
We can resolve to live the life they gave up. Not, perhaps, by picking up the to-do list that they left behind. But certainly to live a life of sacrifice and responsibility. To bring meaning, perhaps, to whatever there may have been about their death that was senseless. To take whatever words they may have said about the reason for their life and death, to take whatever example they may have offered, and to live that life.
This is true whether the person who died was a soldier from northern Minnesota who died following exposure to tests in New Mexico or a soldier killed from a bomb in a jeep or a God who put on a uniform of flesh and walked among humans.
A summer lived after understanding death on our behalf could be the most remarkable summer ever.
First published in 2015. Remembering the uncle I never met and a soldier who died next to my dad who was in the same jeep.