MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, December 19th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Christmas preparations are underway, and commentator Cal Thomas says this is a good time to remember those who may be feeling a little blue.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: “There’s a grief that can’t be spoken.
There’s a pain goes on and on.
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone.”
That’s Marius, from the musical “Les Miserables.”
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” Andy Williams reminds us over tinny speakers in crowded shopping malls. It may be wonderful for the majority, but for those whose fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers or children have died in Iraq and Afghanistan there is a void this Christmas—and every Christmas—that can never be filled.
On Monday, I drove past Arlington National Cemetery near the Pentagon. It is fitting that the building where war is made would be in such close proximity to the graves of those who died fighting them. Veterans cemeteries ought to remind civilians and generals alike that war should never be entered into lightly, but always as a last resort.
Every Christmas, volunteers place wreaths on each of the headstones in Arlington. The tableau could be a Christmas card, except such a card would express sorrow, not joy.
The grave markers at Arlington and at veteran cemeteries around the nation are the true cost of freedom, which has always been paid not with cash, but with blood.
Freedom is not the natural state of humanity, otherwise more of us would be free. Oppression, discrimination, religious fanaticism, censorship of the press, denial of women’s rights — these seem to be the norm. To be free means to rail against such injustice.
As Christians, we believe Jesus came to set us free from sin. Those who died in our wars did it so we might have our many freedoms, including the religious freedom to hear and accept or reject His message.
Passing Arlington, I recall a line from one of our wonderful patriotic songs, “America, the Beautiful.” It says of our war dead, “O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!”
As ads and emails suggest last-minute gift ideas, here’s an idea that will outlast any purchase for yourself or your family: Find someone who has lost a loved one to war and take them a present.
It doesn’t have to be expensive. Tell them, “I wanted to bring you a gift in recognition of the gift your loved one gave our country.” If you don’t know anyone, search online for organizations that assist families whose loved ones paid the ultimate price for our country.
If you do that, I suspect this Christmas will be unforgettable for the person on the receiving end of your compassion. It could also make this Christmas a transforming event in your own life.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Cal Thomas.