One of the Most Sacred Days of the Year

Yesterday we celebrated Memorial Day, which means a much anticipated 3-day weekend that occurs every year right around the end of school and the start of summer. It means camping, BBQs, yard work and family get-togethers. But for many, it means a whole lot more than that—especially those who have lost family and friends to the casualties of war. For me personally, it is one of the most sacred days of the year. Even though I may disagree with some of the “political” aspects of past wars, I absolutely honor and deeply reverence the courage, conviction, patriotism and self-sacrifice of those who spilt their precious blood for each of us and this nation.

Raise the Flag!

Although you may not be aware of it, there is a very specific flag raising and lowering ceremony that takes place all across America on Memorial Day. Here’s a description from Wikipedia:

On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. The half-staff position remembers the more than [1.3 million] men and women who gave their lives in service of their country [all major U.S. war casualties from the American Revolution to now]. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Day)

Casualties in the Battle with Addiction

As I ponder on the staggering number of “1.3 million war casualties,” I also think about the “battle with drug and alcohol addiction” and how many casualties that desperate struggle has claimed. It’s estimated that every year, alcohol accounts for more than 100,000 deaths in the U.S., and annually there are more than 40,000 drug-induced deaths. Drugs and alcohol also contribute to over 50% of all suicides and 50% of all violent crimes. As I think about these insane numbers, my mind is drawn to the last sentence in the Wikipedia description of the Memorial Day flag raising ceremony–

“At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.”

Continue in the Fight for Freedom!

Over a million valiant souls have given their lives in the name of patriotism and liberty and have moved on to the next realm of existence. And we, the living, are here to try our best to honor their sacrifice by continuing the fight for freedom and right. And nowhere is that fight more real and desperate than in the battle against drug and alcohol addiction, where the lives of individuals, marriages, families and futures are lost every day. My deepest respect and prayers go out to the millions of individuals immersed in the daily battle to stay clean and sober. My heart is filled with awe and admiration for the spouses, parents, family and friends who sacrifice so much for the recovery of the addicts they love. And I applaud the vast army of counselors, therapists, sponsors and volunteers who battle it out on the front lines of this war every day.

So, with Memorial Day just past, let us be more determined than ever to honor those who sacrificed their lives in the wars of the past, by NEVER giving up or giving ground in THIS war we wage to rescue individuals and families ravaged by the enemy known as “addiction.” May we ever push onward, humbly grateful for each and every victory, no matter how small, and grateful to fight another day.