“It is rather for us … 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.” – Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address (1863)

If Lincoln could see what America has become—and what passes for freedom these days—I cannot help but think he would shed tears. And yet the great promises and potential of America remain, due in large part to the sacrifice of our servicemen and women.

Each year, on Memorial Day, we rightly pause to honor the ones who, from the birth of our nation to today, gave their last full measure of devotion, so that we might live. Sometimes, if we are not careful, this holiday can become routine and lose its impact. Therefore, I suggest several things which I hope Lincoln would approve:

/// Pray for America

From abortion on demand to the marriage meltdown, from poverty to human trafficking to terrorism, our problems in America are too great for any one person or politician to fix. As Russell Moore said, our situation is not going to be fixed in an election or two. Rather than seeking answers in a political party, let’s call on the Lord through prayer, believing He’s our only hope.

/// Pray for military personnel and their families

To lose a loved one is tragic no matter the circumstance. To have lost a loved one who was in the line of duty is an especially heavy event. Take time today to pray for families affected by this form of loss, that they would know God is their comforter, protector and provider.

/// Thank veterans and servicemen/women

When is the last time you have said simply “Thank you!” to someone in the military? Gratitude to our troops as a whole is great, but go a step further to write or say a thank you to a specific veteran or military member. Your words could be a huge blessing.

/// Use freedom to advance the Gospel

Recall that Lincoln said that our actions are to be honorable so that these dead will not have died in vain and he invoked God’s Name. His address was one of the most Christian speeches in American history. Lincoln, who was a fervent Christian believer, knew that the new birth of freedom could receive its fulfillment, only under God. Let’s use the freedom we were given as an opportunity to share the light of Christ.

Through ideas like these and more, Memorial Day can take on even more significance that just a good day to be at the lake or out BBQ grilling. To that end, I say of those who gave their last full measure, we are forever indebted and we are eternally grateful…