From the moment the Pilgrims stood atop Plymouth Rock in 1620, a fitting motto for the dream that they held and which has continued through the centuries in the land they settled can be found in Galatians 5:1: 

“For freedom did Christ set us free: Stand fast, therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage.”

Freedom has always been the driving force behind America’s success, and that biblical verse is a reminder that maintaining freedom requires us to “stand fast.”

Throughout the history of the United States, threats have constantly emerged that would entangle us in oppression: The British tried to stop us from leaving in the Revolutionary War and then tried to bring us back under their control in the War of 1812. The Civil War had to be waged, as Lincoln said at Gettysburg, to see whether any nation conceived and dedicated to liberty would really work.

World Wars I and II tested whether democracy or authoritarianism would rule the world. The Cold War and Vietnam saw a similar battle, but this time the foe was communism. And now that story is playing out again versus religious fanaticism in the Middle East.

While setbacks happen, freedom has always been the victor in the long run. Yet that has come at a steep price: the blood of the defenders of liberty.

Some of them served willingly and others were drawn in without their consent, but the sacrifice was all the same. They did not remain to enjoy the ideals that they fought for; they did it for us.

As Christ said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

All Americans — and freedom-loving peoples everywhere — are friends of the more than 1.1 million U.S. soldiers who have given their lives on fields of battle.

Because of them, we can enjoy the beginning of summer on Memorial Day with recreation and fun. But we should also stop, at least for a moment, and think about those who paid the price for our freedom.

The National Moment of Remembrance is recognized at 3 p.m. Monday for that purpose. Take that opportunity. Pause. Think. Remember what has been given. And resolve to do your part to “stand fast” in the constant struggle to maintain freedom.

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