In Arlington National Cemetery, the "Old Guard" protects the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier every minute of every day, and has done so since 1948. It's a beautiful thought to me.
The tomb is representative of all the service men and women who lost their lives, with no remains to be found (from World Wars I & II, and the Korean War). In their respective battles and wars, their bodies were separated from their names, but not their honor.
The 3rd Infantry has dedicated their service to keeping the honor of those. Every single day, the sentinels guard the tomb because they remember that there were those before them who put their life on the line. Being a part of this regimen, especially during difficult conditions, is considered a terrific honor.
As I write this, we are in the midst of a huge blizzard. Virginia may get up to 3 feet of snow, with gusty winds up to 35 mph. Old Guard will not stop. The soldiers before them, whom they honor, did not stop, so how could they?
The Unknowns are no more important than the soldiers buried with their names, by their own loved ones. But the idea is that none should be forgotten. All heroic deeds are given their due in this country.
Those in the military are expected to do everything in their power to protect the citizens of their country. Service men and women don't know the name of each person for whom they are laying down their lives, but it doesn't matter. That person is just as much a citizen of the U.S. as their own mother.
The life each military member gives to save others is precious also, regardless of the outcome of the battle. We honor them because it's the love and dedication behind the sacrifice that makes a difference. Every single one of them deserves to be recognized.
It's that life that the Sentinels are guarding. It's their way of saying thank you. A bit too late for those who have died, but not for those who still have a life to give. The military wants to show current soldiers that no matter what happens, they will not be forgotten. Their sacrifice will not be in vain.
As current military look at the treatment of the Unknown Soldier, they know they will never be considered insignificant. If they have to make the ultimate sacrifice, even if by doing so, no one is saved, that soldier will know that what was done was important for their country.
It reminds me of another story. Another sacrifice given for all to remember. A baby born into a poor family and all but unknown thereafter. No one knew Him, but He knew every one of them.
He knew the ones who spat at Him as He walked with His cross to Calvary. (I wonder if there are some Vietnam vets who can relate to that?) Jesus knew each one, and He was still determined to save them.
Not to take anything away from our military, but they are only called to protect those in our country. Not many would lay down their lives for someone on the other side of the battle lines. Romans even tells us that while anyone might die for a righteous man, who would die for someone who didn't deserve it?
Jesus laid down His life for everyone. He put His down so that all could live in the freedom of God's grace. He laid it out for his mother, his family, his disciples, AND for the Pharisees who accused Him, the rulers who suppressed Him, and the Roman soldiers that beat Him, spat on Him, and hung Him. He also gave His life for those who had not even betrayed Him yet.
My friends, we are not the righteous ones. No one is. It wasn't our goodness that made Jesus decide to die for us. It was His love.
A soldier never asks who in our country is worth giving his life for. He knows that he will do it for everybody. No questions asked. Jesus never asked any questions either. And His sacrifice is not limited at all. His love goes beyond borders.
The Unknown Soldiers may never have known if or how many American citizens their life-giving sacrifice saved. Jesus gets to know each and every one that He saved.
We honor the Unknown Soldier with a monument. It is watched 24/7. We don't give up on it in a storm. The sacrifice is never forgotten or put aside. Will we honor Jesus's sacrifice in the same way?
Passion Under Grace,