Monday, May 27, 2019

President Thomas S. Monson on the sacrifices of soldiers

President Thomas S. Monson (1927–2018) was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1963. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency with Presidents Benson, Hunter, and Hinckley and then became Church president in 2008. He led the Church for almost a decade until his passing in January 2018.
"One summer day I stood alone in the quiet of the American War Memorial Cemetery of the Philippines. A spirit of reverence filled the warm tropical air. Situated among the carefully mowed grass, acre upon acre, were markers identifying men, mostly young, who in battle gave their lives. As I let my eyes pass name by name along the many colonnades of honor, tears came easily and without embarrassment. As my eyes filled with tears, my heart swelled with pride. I contemplated the high price of liberty and the costly sacrifice many had been called upon to bear.
"My thoughts turned from those who bravely served and gallantly died. There came to mind the grief-stricken mother of each fallen man as she held in her hand the news of her precious son’s supreme sacrifice. Who can measure a mother’s grief? Who can probe a mother’s love? Who can comprehend in its entirety the lofty role of a mother? With perfect trust in God, she walks, her hand in his, into the valley of the shadow of death that you and I might come forth unto life."
- Thomas S. Monson, "Behold Thy Mother," General Conference October 1973
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

It is well to pause occasionally and consider the contributions and sacrifices of those who have gone before. In the United States, Memorial Day is intended to encourage us to remember the sacrifices of those who served, and died, in the military. President Monson, a veteran himself from his Navy service near the end of World War II, was very sensitive to those sacrifices. I loved this personal experience of his mourning in a military cemetery in the Philippines:

Beyond the sacrifice of the soldiers, President Monson also extends his thoughts to the mothers of those soldiers. We sometimes forget the contribution of those who supported a child, husband, or close friend in these efforts and was left with the burden of loss and sadness at the death of a soldier.

Certainly, we should always remember "the high price of liberty and the costly sacrifice many had been called upon to bear."

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

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