May 24, 2018
This weekend, our nation celebrates Memorial Day, a day when we remember those women and men in military service who gave their lives for our country and the freedoms we enjoy. Two elements of this national observance should be kept in mind: sacrifice and freedom.
In the Christian tradition, believers call to mind the words of Jesus about sacrifice: “greater love than this no man has, than that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you ... love one another (John 15:13-17).”
We show that love for our neighbor in America by honoring the freedoms we enjoy, among them: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear.
In the counties of Central New Jersey this Memorial Day Weekend, we are all encouraged to “love thy neighbor” as we celebrate the sacrifices made for those freedoms. At a time when division, polarization and prejudice seem to mark our society anew, we need to look deeply into our hearts again to renew our commitment to the freedoms that are ours to own and to share together as neighbors.
Hatred and discrimination based on race or religion, national origin or culture or whatever distinguishes us from one another throughout this great land are the antithesis of our national heritage and our national motto “E pluribus, unum ... out of many, one.” They are also the antithesis of the cause of freedom for which those brave women and men whose memory we honor this weekend sacrificed and laid down their lives.
Our country is great because of all its people together and the freedoms that identify us as Americans. The words of President Abraham Lincoln must still ring true: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive ... to bind up the nation’s wounds ... to do all which may achieve a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations (Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865).” Love thy neighbor.