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Live every day like it’s Memorial Day

A couple walks through Springfield National Cemetery during the Memorial Day remembrance ceremony on May 27, 2024.

A couple walks through Springfield National Cemetery during the Memorial Day remembrance ceremony on May 27, 2024.

I spent this Memorial Day like many Missourians: barbecuing and enjoying the sun with my family. But when my young children asked about the meaning of the holiday weekend on the way to a tribute, I struggled with how to convey the true meaning of Memorial Day to them.

This is what I chose: the price of something is determined by what you are willing to pay for it. And what is the price of freedom?

The men and women we honor on Memorial Day believed that the United States of America was worth the ultimate prize.

There are very few things that we as humans are willing to give our lives for. And yet I remember the day I swore an oath to protect the United States from its enemies—both foreign and domestic—and to give my life, if necessary, to do so. On that day I felt no hesitation.

After the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, my plans for my future changed, as did those of so many others. I dropped out of law school, took a commission as an officer in the military, and swore an oath to defend our Constitution. I volunteered for a combat arms division to fight the enemies of freedom, volunteered to go to Iraq and served two tours as an armored cavalry officer. I was lucky enough to get back home. Many of my colleagues never did, including one of my soldiers and my best friend from college. That is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

As I tried to answer my young children’s questions about what this day means on Memorial Day, I realized that those who never came home came to the same conclusion I did when I was 21 years old: This country is worth dying for .

After all, Memorial Day is our poignant reminder that freedom is not free. Jesus underscored this point in John 15:13 when he said, “There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for a friend.” He modeled that for us by giving His life for our eternal freedom. And the men and women we honor on Memorial Day modeled this for us by giving their lives for our earthly freedom.

It is said that no one can learn to die before learning how to live. The men and women we honor on this Memorial Day learned to live by faith. The belief that America is greater than our ideological differences. Believe that freedom is humanity’s noblest pursuit. And the faith that God above holds us all in His loving arms. To honor the sacrifice of our fallen, we must ignite a revolution of patriotism and put America first.

We must live lives dedicated to preserving the ideals these heroes were charged with defending: freedom, liberty and hope.

As I explained to my children, Americans are blessed to live in the greatest country in the world, protected by a system of governance never before seen by humanity. A system of, by and for the people. The same ideals that compelled me to serve as a young man and fueled my passion for the law are the same that make our country worth fighting and dying for today. The men and women in uniform knew the costs of protecting America, and they paid them anyway.

We honor their sacrifice as we live every day as if it were Memorial Day.

That’s what I try to do in memory of my fellow soldiers who never came home. That’s what I’m trying to do to leave a better Missouri for my children. And that’s what I try to do every day as your Attorney General.

Memorial Day doesn’t have to be just one day a year. We owe it to them – to our heroes – to live every day as if it were Memorial Day.

Andrew Bailey is a combat veteran and the 44th Attorney General of the State of Missouri.

This article originally appeared on Springfield News Leader: Andrew Bailey: Live every day like it’s Memorial Day