Although caller ID showed the call as “restricted,” with two sons deployed with the United States Marine Corps in Iraq, I knew that I must take the call that Sunday morning, 01 October 2006.

Like any Marine Corps communicator, my youngest son Joshua’s voice was commanding and to-the-point—“Don’t talk, Dad, just listen.  We’re going on our first mission, and I need you to pray, because we have already had one Marine fall this morning somewhere in Anbar Province.  I love you, Dad!”

joshua 2006 iraq 1

“I will pray.  I love you, son!” That was all I had time to say.  The sat phone went dead.  Immediately, I sat down and prayed in the Association apartment where I was staying in southern Illinois.  A few minutes later, I finished dressing for the day, drove to the church, and spoke three times to the congregation in Sparta, Illinois.

With services ended, Pastor & Mrs. Bill Herald and I had just ordered our late evening meal when my phone vibrated once again.  When I saw that it was my daughter-in-law Patty who was calling, I excused myself from the table and took the call that would change my life forever.

“Dad, where are you?  Are you alone?  Are you driving?”  My heart seemed to stop when Patty continued, “Dad, LtCol Hermann just left the house.  Justin was killed this morning in Iraq.”

On this Memorial Day weekend, many Americans will celebrate freedom—understandably.  However, that is the purpose for the 4th of July.  Other American families will thank men and women in uniform or those veterans who have previously served in one of the five branches of our military.  That is all well and good; however, that is the purpose of Veterans Day, 11 November each year.  Unfortunately, a few of our citizens will become so engrossed in their long holiday weekend of activities; they may forget altogether the significance of Memorial Day.


However, scattered across this nation and around the globe are families who will always remember—who can never forget—that the purpose of Memorial Day is to gratefully remember those brave men and women who paid the ultimate price while they served.  In remembering them, we also remember the countless numbers of parents, siblings, spouses, children, and friends who also pay a price—some who are seated in this audience today.

Neither our fallen nor their families want your pity or sympathy.  We want your respect, your remembrance, and your gratitude for the freedom, purchased by so few, to benefit so many, and at such great cost.  Parents have been deprived of their offspring to make that purchase for you.  Lonely spouses embrace soft pillows at night, rather than the rock-hard bodies of their life mate, crying themselves to fitful sleep.

Most gut-wrenching of all, infants and small children will never know anything more of a parent who gave them life than what they will see in old pictures or the stories they hear from friends and relatives who remember.

"On behalf of ... a grateful nation," my daughter-in-law Patty

“On behalf of … a grateful nation,” my daughter-in-law Patty

If there was ever a people who were grateful, who remember, who keep perspective and care, it should be believer-citizens—Americans who know Christ as Savior—and make full proof of occasions such as Memorial Day to do so.  Whether it is the liberties we enjoy as citizens of this great nation or the liberation of the soul for all eternity, our freedom has been purchased vicariously for us by someone else.  Let us never forget.

jared and dale mem day 2013 a

BTW, do you pray?  If so, why not pause this Memorial Day, reflect on those have secured your freedom, pray for those left behind, and express your gratitude heavenward for those who paid the ultimate price for freedom?

Let us forever remember.

6 responses to “MEMORIAL DAY 2015

  1. We will remember our fallen Heroes
    who gave their all!


  2. Karen Coffer Moulton

    As an AirForce mom of a son who served for 6 years and through 3 grueling deployments, my heart fills with the pain of what your family has suffered and respects the sacrifice of freedom even more deeply. This is a beautiful tribute and extremely pertinent reminder. Thanks so much for the candid thoughts. Blessings to your family. A friend from long ago (SMITE days)


  3. I always think of you and other families I know who lost a loved one. I also remember my brothers who both served. We were blessed to have them come home, but forever changed in many ways.





  5. Vickie Shelby

    I remember Justin as a little boy full of energy and adventure and then as young man went I saw him just before he left for The Marines. What a amazing person he was and still is in the hearts of those who knew him and loved him. God’s blessings upon you and your family as we remember and thank those who gave it all so that we may have it all in the greatest country on the planet.


  6. Pastor Dale I am so sorry to read about the loss of Justin. It has been so many years since we last spoke that I searched you out online and found your blog. This was not what I was hoping to read about for sure. I am sure there is a lesson here for all of us, Just know I pray for peace for you and yours.


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