On Remembrance Day in Canada (Veterans Day in the US), we remember the servicemen and -women who lost their lives to ensure the freedom we cherish so deeply today.
The numbers are staggering: it’s estimated that over 400,000 U.S. military personnel lost their lives during World War II. The US National D-Day Memorial Foundation estimates that over 4,000 Allied servicemen lost their lives on June 6, 1944 (D-Day) alone.
The fatalities during World War I are equally appalling, with close to 60,000 Canadians having lost their lives in service. The best estimate of war historians is that over 140,000 Allied soldiers lost their lives during the hellish Battle of the Somme alone in 1916 (including my great-uncle Pte. Robert John Tisdale, still in his teens).
The numbers who lost their lives in the Korean War, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and others only adds to the toll of war’s terrible cost.
But wait a minute—every sentence I just wrote contained a mistake. Did you spot it?
My mistake wasn’t in the statistics themselves; I was as accurate as I could be in listing the numbers who died, and in which battles.
Rather, my mistake was in the verb I used in each sentence. I wrote that those brave men and women lost their lives. Not really.
They gave their lives.
Millions of soldiers, sailors, pilots, nurses and others went off to war knowing that they might not come back, but they went anyway. Those who died in battle made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives. This is what makes their deaths all the more meaningful to us today, we who have benefitted from the freedom their sacrifice purchased for us.
Likewise, we make a mistake when we suggest that Jesus was a victim of forces beyond His control at the time of His death. We make a mistake when we say that He was killed by this faction or that faction, as though it was they who actually determined his fate. It’s a mistake to say that He lost his life.
Jesus Himself refutes this idea in John 10:18, when He says, “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily.” (NLT)
His gave His life. That is what makes His death so meaningful to us, we who have benefitted from the freedom His sacrifice purchased for us.
Lest we forget.
© 2019 Lori J. Cartmell