On Hallowed Ground – Two Memorials

As we stood above the sunken U.S.S. Arizona, there was quiet, as people reflected upon the significance of what this represented. Still entombed within this vessel are over eleven hundred men—men who gave their lives in defense of what we all hold so dear—our nation and our freedom. I felt as though I was standing on hallowed ground.

 Tears welled up in our eyes, and some were openly crying as they read the names engraved in stone upon the wall. And off to the side are freshly engraved names—names of those who survived the inferno of December 7, 1941, but who wished to join their comrades. Thus, when they died, their bodies were cremated, and the ashes placed in urns within the sunken hull so that those who were together in life could be together again in death.

 I doubt that fateful day will ever be forgotten in our nation’s memory. Brave men and women were taken in an instant of time by the surprise Japanese attack. Some still live who witnessed that scene. My friend Abe Guillermo, as a young boy watched the bombing. Among the throngs present on this particular day, June 18, 2007 was William Cope. “Bill” was on the Arizona that fateful day, and was one of the few who survived. He is now 93, and his body is slowing down, but his mind is still clear. I sat with him for a few moments and thanked him for his service.

 Year by year remembrance is made of the sacrifices made that day, as well as the sacrifices that have been made through the years of the existence of this nation to secure our “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” May it ever be so.

 There is another memorial that has even greater significance. Some years ago my wife and I walked the streets of ancient Jerusalem. We stood in Pilate’s Hall where Pilate washed his hands as the mob cried, “Let him be crucified.” We walked the streets that were hallowed by the blood of our Savior which flowed from his wounds as he carried his cross to Golgotha.

 There is no way one can be on this hallowed ground without being emotional. We cannot fully comprehend the intense physical pain and suffering Christ endured, nor the sorrow he felt as he considered the fate of the people who were lining the street. Even in his pain and humiliation, his thoughts were for them. “And following Him was a large crowd of the people, and of women who were mourning and lamenting Him. But Jesus turning to them said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children’” (Luke 23:27-28).

 We may not be able to be physically present, but God has given us a very vivid way in which we can remember the fact that someone died that we might be free—free from sin, free from the fear of death, free from eternal hell. And in God’s wisdom, he has given this as a weekly reminder. Paul explained it in these words: “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes” (I Cor. 11:23-26).

 As we partake each Lord’s Day, let us in quietness reflect upon the sacrifice and significance of this supreme act of love. Do the tears ever come? Does your mind picture the Son of God hanging on the cross for you? We cannot comprehend, but we can express our thanksgiving, and dedicate our lives to the one who died for us.