Monday, May 25, 2015

Gordon B. Hinckley on remembrance and gratitude for military service

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1961. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1981-1995, then as Church President until his death in 2008.
"I deeply appreciate those who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of human liberty. I hate war, with all its mocking panoply. It is a grim and living testimony that Satan, the father of lies, the enemy of God, lives. War is earth's greatest cause of human misery. It is the destroyer of life, the promoter of hate, the waster of treasure. It is man's costliest folly, his most tragic misadventure....
"Can anyone in a free land be less than grateful for those who have given their lives that liberty might flourish?
"I have stood at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, where are remembered those who have died for the freedom of the United States. I have stood by the Cenotaph at Whitehall in London, where are remembered the dead of Britain. I have seen the flame that always burns beneath the Arch of Triumph in Paris, in remembrance of the men of France who died in the cause of freedom. At each of these sacred places I have felt a deep and moving sense of gratitude to those there remembered. I have stood beside my own brother's grave in the U.S. military cemetery in Suresnes, France, and thanked the Lord for the liberty preserved by the sacrifices of those who gave their lives in the cause of human liberty. I have walked reverently on that quiet ground known as the Punch Bowl in Hawaii, where lie the remains of thousands who made the ultimate sacrifice....
"In such places, hallowed by the blood of patriots, I have thought of a scene in the Maxwell Anderson play Valley Forge. The scene depicts soldiers of the American Revolution, cold, hungry, and filled with despair, burying a dead comrade in the frozen earth. General Washington says with a touch of bitterness: 'This liberty will look easy by and by, when nobody dies to get it.'
"When I was a boy in school, each Armistice Day at eleven o'clock we all stood with bowed heads for a minute of silent and grateful remembrance. I am sorry we have forgotten that practice in the rush of our lives....
"May the Lord bless our brethren in the service, wherever they may be, for their faithfulness. May the Lord remind us of the debt of gratitude we owe them, and may he awaken within us a resolution to live worthy of their sacrifice."
- Gordon B. Hinckley, "In Grateful Remembrance," Ensign, March 1971, p. 20
Click here to read the full address
This is such a touching tribute and reminder from President Hinckley. He starts with this vivid description of war's "mocking panoply" that he attributes directly to Satan:

President Hinckley then documents his own personal gratitude, giving examples of those who have sacrificed in war to preserve freedom—including his own brother.

This reminder warns that we are losing the patriotism of the past as it subtly fades:

And I think this concluding prayer and challenge sums up the message.

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