Sunday, January 22, 2023

That These Shall Not Have Fought in Vain

By Ron Bartanen


     Tomorrow we, as a nation, observe Veterans Day, It is a day appropriately set aside to give honor to the veterans—to those who have faced the possibility of death in defense of our freedoms.  Theirs has been the greatest sacrifice of which man is capable.   They have left parents, wives and husbands, and children to serve their country with the realization that they might never again see their loved ones. The greatest of honors are due toward those who were willing to make the greatest of sacrifices.  Let us therefore remind ourselves of the value of that for which they were willing to give their all.  They esteemed our liberty as a nation to be valued even above their lives.

     How great will be the disgrace and shame of our nation if this for which they were willing to shed their blood is cast aside.  Following the Civil War, President Lincoln gave the famous Gettysburg Address, remembering those who had fallen in battle.  In the closing words of his speech he said, “It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.  It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”   On Memorial Day we gave special honor to the deceased veterans, but on Veterans Day we recognize also those who survived.  We could make one change in Lincoln ’s speech to say, “…that these shall not have fought in vain.”  As Lincoln saw that “under God” we had been granted freedom, he also recognized the “great task” ahead for the survivors of war—that of a continued defense of freedom.  He called the nation to “increased devotion to that cause….”  Liberty, once achieved, is nevertheless seen as an “unfinished work,” dependent upon that devotion.  Otherwise, tyranny would triumph, and our free republic would “perish from the earth.”

     Sadly, our generation is witnessing a loss of that devotion, and with it the dissembling of what was once recognized as a “Christian nation.”  Our nation was blessed from its beginning with founders and defenders who had a high regard for the Bible and the Christian faith.   Congress even provided Bibles for schools and homes that the next generation would continue its Christian heritage and with it the liberties of a free people.  The discarding of this foundation can only result in catastrophic ruin.  We can politically justify killing babies in the wombs of their mothers, kick God and His word out of schools and all public sites, and redefine marriage to give honor to what God calls an abomination, but only at the expense of inviting God’s wrath.  The God who does not change could say to us as He said Israel through David, “Seeing you hate instruction and cast My words behind you…These (evil) things you have done, and I kept silent: You thought that I was altogether like you: But I will rebuke you… Now consider this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver” (Psalms 50:17, 21-22).  Let it never be said in future generations that through our godlessness we lost our nation, and our veterans “have fought in vain.”

- Ronald Bartanen is a retired minister who for many years served the Lord's church in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. After the passing of his beloved wife, Doris, Ron has relocated from Illinois to Florida where he is near family. He may be contacted at:

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